The dangers of fast fashion: In conversation with Bristol University's Extinction Rebellion group

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By Lilly Hill, Style Deputy Editor

The Croft Magazine // Deputy Editor Lilly Hill chats with Bristol Extinction Rebellion members Emily Andrews and Lily Halladay about the impacts of fast fashion in the student world

Emily and Lily both got involved in XR after the April 2019 Spring Uprising. This International Rebellion gained a lot of publicity and its success in forcing the government to declare a climate emergency encouraged them to join.

XR stands for Extinction Rebellion. It is a movement of people of people coming together to tackle the climate crisis. The demands that Extinction Rebellion are making are:

  1. Tell the truth: The Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Act Now: The Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Beyond Politics: Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.
XR Bristol 'Pink Carpet / Ellie Kenny

This September XR held a protest in the form of a ‘funeral march’ at London Fashion Week to encourage people to boycott ‘fast-fashion’, seeking to discourage fast-fashion.

'We live in a consumerist society driven by immediate short term gratification from buying cheap, low quality garments', Emily explains. 'Nearly three-fifths of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfill within a year of being produced and more than 8 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions are produced by the apparel and footwear industries.

'If we are going to save the planet, we have to start buying second hand, reworking our own clothes and buying high quality garments that we won't end up throwing away.'

Lily, one of the rebels protesting at London Fashion Week, saw first hand the impact these fashion week protests had:

'I think they raised an incredible amount of awareness. I think that people are becoming more and more conscious of what they buy and are beginning to realise that a cheap garment from Primark (or alike) is cheap for a reason.'

'The protests against London fashion week were an amazing example of direct action. I was involved in an action where rebels glued themselves to the entrance of a major catwalk show, thereby blocking the entrance. The rebels were covered in blood and there was blood spilt on the floor, representing the devastating and deadly repercussions of the fashion industry.'

'This got an incredible amount of media attention and we appeared in Vogue, on CNN, the Independent, the Guardian and many other news stations. Another amazing result: Sweden actually cancelled their Fashion week!'

Speaking with their feet, Emily and Lily have personally boycotted fast-fashion for a year.

'We have barely noticed a difference and much prefer shopping second hand in charity shops or on Depop. It's more fun, you find unique pieces and you can rest easy in the knowledge that your buying habits aren't damaging the environment.'

Bristol charity shop, Laura Mallinson / Epigram 

There has been some negative press recently about XR having a large demographic of middle-class people, questioning if boycotting fast-fashion is as easily accessible to the working classes.

Shinning light on this issue, Emily and Lily told The Croft that XR have groups dedicated to inclusivity. 'We acknowledge that this is a problem within XR at the moment, but it is one everyone is working to change.'

One of XR’s principles is that we 'welcome everyone and every part of everyone'.

'Charity shops and online second-hand shops, like eBay, are available to everyone and are incredibly cheap. However, we do think that there needs to be a shift towards bigger second-hand shops that are dedicated purely to clothing and more accessible.'

Here in Bristol today, Lily and Emily are working as part of the XR student group putting direct pressure on the University of Bristol to become more sustainable and do our own 'actions' and protests around Bristol.

XR Bristol 'Pink Carpet / Ellie Kenny

'Last summer, we protested fast fashion by standing in the shop windows of shops like Urban outfitters and Zara in Cabot Shopping Centre, with writing all over our bodies about the impacts of fast fashion. This got a lot of public and media attention and was very successful. We also walked in a 'pink carpet' on the same day, which showcased the designs of sustainable clothing designers in Bristol.'

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📸 Ellie Kenny

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For more information, there is a students XR group which meets every Thursday evening from 7-9pm in St Paul's Church, Clifton. Or, follow the XR Bristol university instagram: @xrbristoluniveristy and the Facebook: Extinction Rebellion Bristol Students.

Featured: Epigram / Ellie Kenny


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