Has hyper-consumerism turned us into a throwaway society?

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TASTELESS: Overflowing landfills can be the true price of fashion. Credit: Shutterstock

GOOD morning, class.

No talking at the back, please. I’d like to begin with a moan.

A study sponsored by Sainsbury’s and Oxfam last year calculated that more than 235 million articles of clothing were sent to landfill annually. Discarded clothing has been one of the fastest-growing sources of British waste over the past decade.

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The fashion industry relies on our irresistible compulsion for fast, cheap, disposable clothes. Especially uncomfortable, daft-looking clothes (and stiletto heels) worn by a sleb. Wear once, throw away. If it looks bizarre, it must be great.

Well, I blame Brexit! It’s obvious. People can see that crashing out of the EU single market and customs union is going to result in delays to the import of skinny jeans, fashion-forward tops and shoes – and naturally, higher prices. Just like car manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, the fashion-conscious ladies and gents of the UK have been compelled to stockpile in advance of the impending doom and then as usual afterwards… throw away!

And as if that weren’t enough, we’re reading almost daily about the latest retailer forced to shut up shop on UK high streets, hit by online competition and rising costs, affecting thousands of jobs.

High-profile failures include Maplin and Toys R Us while high street chains like Marks & Spencer, Carphone Warehouse, New Look and Carpetright have had to close dozens of outlets to try to remain profitable.

Incidentally, looking ahead to Christmas, are you stumped for ideas for gifts? The new ‘Get My Gifts’ service offered by John Lewis (another UK department store under pressure) will let shoppers “book their very own John Lewis gift guru” to help them find the perfect presents.

Good grief! What’s the world come to when people need the services of a ‘gift guru’? A shocking manifestation of the hyper-consumerism that surrounds us – and shame on John Lewis for encouraging it.

And a final thought about fashion: if you want to stand out in the crowd, wear the Emperor’s New Clothes. Cost: zero. Look-at-me factor: 100%.

 

Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.net) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.99;£0.99) and iBookstore. All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity.

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