Throughout February, one Highgate geography teacher wore the same outfit to raise awareness of the impact of fast fashion.
Ms Mynott said: ‘I really enjoyed this fashion challenge, which sparked numerous conversations with pupils, colleagues and parents. Fast fashion quickly markets cheap new clothes to consumers but there are big concerns around the industry. From an environmental perspective, making huge volumes of clothes requires growing huge amounts of cotton, which can lead to excessive use of pesticides, fertile land, and water resources. By placing companies under pressure to reduce costs and time, environmental corners may be cut, which are not taken account of in the monetary price a consumer pays. From a human perspective, working conditions within garment manufacturing in lower income countries can often be poor.’
Ms Mynott added: ‘Not only has my fast-fashion-free February been helpful in raising awareness about these issues, it also made my morning routine simpler! It removed the need for me to make any decisions about what to wear, something that can be quite stressful, particularly for women and girls who tend to face higher expectations and pressure relating to their appearance.’
Ms Mynott was inspired to go fast-fashion-free after reading of an American teacher who wore the same dress for 100 days in 2018, and a number of pupils and staff joined her in this month-long challenge. Some adopted a minimalist or capsule wardrobe (wearing just a few essential items of clothing that won’t go out of fashion) or agreed not to buy any new clothes that month. Ms Mynott hopes many will continue, and that other pupils and colleagues will adopt more sustainable consumption practices, even though fast-fashion-free February is now over.
Highgate’s pupil-led Environment Committee has been looking at a number of issues relating to the fashion industry. With almost 10,000 items of clothing going to landfills every five minutes in the UK, the committee organised a successful Swap Shop where pupils and staff exchanged pre-loved clothes for free. Discussions in Senior School tutor groups looked at initiatives to support ethical fashion, like buying second hand clothes from charity shops, supporting ethical brands when buying new clothes, not washing clothes too frequently, and wearing organic natural plant fibres to reduce microplastics in the ocean. Following this, a number of pupils attended a screening of the documentary, The True Cost, which links fast fashion to issues including consumerism, worker exploitation, and environmental degradation.
Ms Mynott has already pledged not to buy any new clothes for 2019 but, after her fast-fashion-free February, she has decided to carry on wearing only one dress for the rest of term, to spark further conversation and raise more awareness about the problems of fast fashion.
Attached picture: Ms Mynott and a Highgate sixth former, at the start of their fast-fashion-free February. VG
Ms Mynott and Highgate’s pupil-led Environment Committee, during fast-fashion-free February with their badges marking the month-long challenge