With fast fashion destroying our planet, get these sustainable shindigs in your diary…

When it comes to damaging the planet, fashion is one of the biggest perpetrators going. Fabrics made from fossil fuels and dyed using toxic chemicals, mass manufacturers pumping out carbon emissions, clothes shipped worldwide…Even returns are incredibly destructive: technology company Optoro estimates that 5 billion pounds of waste are generated through returns each year, contributing 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  

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17-20% of all industrial water pollution is caused by the dyeing of textiles in manufacturing, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature

Our buying habits don’t help either: research from SpareRoom.co.uk reveals the Brit could own 20,1722 items of clothing over a lifetime, propelling a fast fashion industry that’s causing everything from habit degradation to climate change and slave labour - the latter also driving down RRPs and creating a self-perpetuating cycle that sees many avoiding ethical brands because of higher prices.

Progress is happening, albeit slowly. Several high street stores, including Ted Baker and H&M, have launched sustainability programmes while this year’s Oscars saw many celebs shun new outfits in favour of upcycling; reflecting an increasing awareness throughout western society. 

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51% of Brits admit to throwing away perfectly wearable clothes, binning a staggering estimated £12.5 billion worth of clothing every year Artificial Photography

Meanwhile Manchester itself has a myriad of conscious brands - including Beaumont Organic, Private White V.C, Contur and Northern Quarter’s Nola - and organisations Stitched Up and Dirty Disco use skills like upcycling to give garments a new life. 

But we’ve still got a long way to go and, with the planet in crisis, urgent change is needed at all stages of the supply chain…which is why Manchester’s event scene is rallying round with a plethora of sustainable shindigs. From panels to parties, swap shops to kilos, we’ve rounded up some below… 

Upcoming sustainable fashion events

Sustainable Fashion Party | fivefourstudios | Saturday 29th February

A celebration of local like-minded businesses & independent creatives with a passion for ethical fashion; featuring expert panels, DJ sets and entertainment from House of Ghetto. Proceeds go to non-for-profit Emmeline’s Pantry. £12.50

Go Green Fortnight | MMU | Tuesday 18th February

As part of Go Green Fortnight, meet MMU alumni Ibukun Baldwin; a creative entrepreneur who is helping refugees through her fashion company Bukky Baldwin. Free

Vegetarian Society Clothes Swap | sandbar | Tuesday 18th February

Clear out your pre-loved, unwanted clothes and save your pennies by adding some new pieces to your wardrobe, all without the environmental price tag. Tickets include a free goody bag and there will also be a raffle and veggie/vegan pizzas available to buy. £5.98

Beaumont Organic x Joseph Otway | Beaumont Organic | Wednesday 19th February

An evening of natural wine, food and fashion sustainability. Beaumont Organic founder Hannah Beaumont will be talking about off-cuts and fashion waste whilst chef Joseph Otway will be picking out the natural wines and snacks to accompany. £25

Fat Positive Clothes Swap | Lush | Sunday 23rd February

The first and only 100% plastic packaging free store in the UK, Lush will be hosting a plus-size clothes swap as part of its monthly Sustainable Sundays series. Free

Swish Swap Clothes Swap | Northern Monk | Sunday 1st March

Another chance to get swapping - organiser Holly O’Rourke says ‘this like Depop or eBay, only it's a real event and there's no money exchanged, just lots of lovely clothes.’ Can’t make this one? Jeneral Store hosts a similar events regularly. £10

Worth the Weight Vintage Kilo | Manchester Cathedral | Saturday 14th March

The UK’s biggest vintage sale returns. Grab a bag on your way in and pick & mix your vintage clothing, all for £15 a kilo. From £1.50

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Ibukun Baldwin helps refugees through her sustainable fashion enterprise

How to be a sustainable clothes shopper

Consider whether the clothes have been made ethically

Ethical Consumer is a great source of info, while companies like Rapanui publish their supply chain.

Think twice about the amount you’re buying

Wasteful Brits spend an average of £92 a month on new clothes but typically only wear around 46% of their wardrobe.

Read product reviews to refine your sizing and avoid returns

Many companies don’t have the facility to handle returns effectively, with many ending in landfill.

Opt to fix or donate clothes to charity instead of throwing them away

Not near a charity shop? Several offer collection services including Clothes Aid, Wood Street Mission, The British Heart Foundation and Traid.

Embrace second-hand items

According to research by WRAP, the government’s waste advisory body, if everyone extended the active life of their clothes by just nine months it would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of UK clothing by 20-30% each and cut resource costs by £5 billion.

Read more: Big Fix 2020 - Can you fix it? Yes, you can