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Vocabulary

Fashion Victim or Environmental Victor

You are on your way home and you make a quick visit to the mall to see if there is anything novel or interesting in any of your favorite stores. Chances are there will be if you shop at any of the retail chains that' use the fast fashion model of business. There's no longer any need to wait for a change of season (for example, from autumn to winter) to see a new collection of clothes because fashion retailers are introducing new lines of clothing on a monthly, or even weekly, basis.

Fast fashion retailers make it possible for fashion-conscious shoppers to stay current without breaking the bank by offering up low priced clothes that follow the latest trends. Over the past ten years, falling prices have led to extraordinary growth in expenditures on clothing. In Britain alone, shoppers spend over $3 7 billion per year on clothes, and the fast I discount fashion sector makes up one-fifth of this market.

In fact, there's so much shopping going on that our closets can't keep up, and people in developed countries are now discarding clothes at higher rates than ever before. There's no thought of mending a hole or sewing on a new button when a new shirt can be bought for six or seven dollars. When a dress gets stained, why pay to dry-clean it when we can buy a new one instead? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American throws away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year. So what happens to all of the clothes we throw away?

Clothing and textiles are the fastest growing waste product in Britain with 63 percent of unwanted clothes ending up in landfills and only 16 percent being recycled. This has serious consequences for the environment because many of today's clothes are made from synthetic fibers, which do not break down naturally. This can create problems as water cannot flow into the soil, and chemicals from the fabrics release poisons into the surrounding air and water.

There are other options for our unwanted clothing. Many of us ease our conscience about all this waste by donating our unwanted clothing to charities. However, even charities cannot keep up with the turnover of clothing and end up selling the excess for recycling or export. Since 1989, U.S. exports of used clothing and other worn textiles have more than tripled and now exceed 7 billion pounds per year. Many of these clothes get a new lease on life when they end up in the flourishing markets for secondhand clothes in Africa and Eastern Europe. Clothing that is in good condition is highly sought after and provides consumers there with the opportunity to be smartly dressed.

However, this virtuous circle of developed countries providing clothes for those in poorer countries is only sustainable if the clothing is well-made and durable. Unfortunately, a major reason fast fashion clothes are so cheap is because of a decrease in the quality of materials and manufacturing. This leaves less reason for developing countries to buy the poorly made clothing, and so will eventually lead to a fall in demand for Western castoffs.

So we need to take a closer look at the economic and ecological impact of fast fashion. Both government bodies and the fashion federations are calling for eco approaches to fashion. For example, the British government used the occasion of London Fashion Week to launch its sustainable clothing action plan. The plan encourages everyone to consider the impact of a fashion item, from the cradle (its design) to the grave (its disposal).


KeyWords
fashion victim
someone who always wears very fashionable clothes even if the clothes sometimes make them look silly:
I have never been described as a fashion victim.

novel
new and original, not like anything seen before:
a novel idea/suggestion

retail
the activity of selling goods to the public, usually in small quantities:
The job is open to applicants with over two years' experience in retail.

autumn
the season of the year between summer and winter:
We like to travel in the autumn when there are fewer tourists.

fall
the season after summer and before winter, when fruits and crops become ripe and the leaves fall off the trees:
Next fall we'll be back in New York.
They met in the fall of 1992.

fashion-conscious
interested in the latest fashions and in wearing fashionable clothes:
Your average fashion-conscious teenager.

trend
a new development in clothing, make-up, etc:
The trend at the moment is towards a more natural and less made-up look.

extraordinary
very unusual, special, unexpected or strange:
He told the extraordinary story of his escape.

expenditurethe 
the total amount of money that a government or person spends:
The government's annual expenditure on arms has been reduced.

discard
to throw something away or get rid of it because you no longer want or need it:
Discarded food containers and bottles littered the streets.

mend
to repair something that is broken or damaged:
Could you mend this hole in my shirt?

sew
to join two pieces of cloth together by putting thread through them with a needle:
My grandmother taught me to sew.

stain
If a material stains, it absorbs substances easily causing it to become marked, or coloured by a chemical:
This carpet is ideal for the kitchen because it doesn't stain easily.

textile
a cloth woven by hand or machine:
the textile industry

landfill	
getting rid of large amounts of rubbish by burying it, or a place where rubbish is buried:
Ninety per cent of American rubbish is dumped in landfill sites.

recycle
to collect and treat rubbish to produce useful materials which can be used again:
The Japanese recycle more than half their waste paper.

synthetic
describes products that are made from artificial substances, often copying a natural product:
synthetic fibres

fibre
threads when they are in a mass that can be used for making products such as cloth and rope:
Natural fibres such as cotton tend to be cooler.

fabric
(a type of) cloth or woven material:
Dress fabric

soil
the material on the surface of the ground in which plants grow; earth:
Fertile soil

surround
to be everywhere around something:
Nina sat at her desk, surrounded by books and papers.

ease
to make or become less severe, difficult, unpleasant, painful, etc:
These pills should ease the pain.

conscience
the part of you that judges the morality of your own actions and makes you feel guilty about bad things that you have done or things you feel responsible for:
You didn't do anything wrong, - you should have a clear conscience (= not feel guilty).

turnover
the amount of business that a company does in a period of time:
Large supermarkets have high turnovers (= their goods sell very quickly).

excess
an amount which is more than acceptable, expected or reasonable:
An excess of enthusiasm is not always a good thing.
They both eat to excess (= too much).

triple
s in size or amount, or to make something do this:
The workforce has tripled in size since the new factory opened.

lease
a legal agreement in which you pay money in order to use a building, piece of land, vehicle, etc. for a period:
He has the flat on a long lease.

flourish
to grow or develop successfully:
My tomatoes are flourishing this summer - it must be the warm weather.

second-hand
not new; having been used in the past by someone else:
She buys all her clothes second-hand.

sought
past simple and past participle of seek

seek 
to try to find or get something, especially something which is not a physical object:
"Are you actively seeking jobs?" she asked.
"Yes I'm a job-seeker".

virtuous 
having good moral qualities and behaviour:
He described them as a virtuous and hard-working people.

sustainable
causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time:
A large international meeting was held with the aim of promoting sustainable development in all countries.

cast-offs
things, usually clothes, that you no longer want:
I always had to wear my sister's cast-offs as a child.

ecology
the relationships between the air, land, water, animals, plants, etc., usually of a particular area, or the scientific study of this:
She hopes to study ecology at college.

federation
a group of organizations, countries, regions, etc. that have joined together to form a larger organization or government:
The United States is a federation of 50 individual states.

cradle
a small bed for a baby, especially one that swings from side to side:
The nurse rocked the cradle.

grave
a place in the ground where a dead person is buried:
He visits his mother's grave every Sunday.
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Reference: Focus on Vocabulary
FoV 01 - C07U25

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