We do rather wish that people would grasp the implications of what they themselves are saying. Life would just be so much simpler if all did understand that if you say x then y ineluctably follows.
But it is entirely unsustainable. We send £140m of clothing to landfill every year in the UK, much of it made by workers scratching a subsistence wage in poor conditions in countries such as Cambodia and Sri Lanka. And the environmental cost is ruinous: the fashion industry is the world’s second biggest polluter, after the oil industry.
There is, however, evidence that this era may be drawing to a close. It is estimated that the secondhand or resale market could be bigger than fast fashion within a decade as we become more aware of the social and environmental impact of cheap clothes.
There are those obvious errors. Things that we’re throwing into landfill aren’t worth £140 million. We’d not be throwing them into landfill if they were worth money. And if we were then there would be eager supplicants at the gates of the rubbish dumps insisting that we proffer these things worth money to them. Why, they might even, under the impetus of competition, offer to pay us for them. The absence of those importunates does indeed tell us there’s no value there.
The scratching of a subsistence wage - that is to forget, as Paul Krugman has pointed out, that the sweatshops are very much better than the alternative employments on offer. Most lives are better than one spent watching the south end of a north moving water buffalo.
But to theimplication of what is being asserted. The era is drawing to a close, fast fashion is just so over as we consumers all change our habits.
OK, great, so there’s no need to do anything is there? We’re done here. The only argument in favour of restricting, or taxing, or even exhorting, is that we’re not all changing our behaviour. Which means we’d like to carry on doing it - so, why restrict, tax or even exhort us to stop doing what we clearly desire to do?