Fit For Our Future?

New Year Resolutions

It’s 10 days in,  the holidays are over and the much awaited festive season has come and gone in a blink of an eye. It’s back to work, but it’s not all bad! A new year has begun, with new resolutions and goals for short-term or long-term achievements and fulfilling aspirations. What did you choose? To start a new hobby, get a new job or pursue a healthier lifestyle?

The most popular new year resolutions involve some sort of well-being goal: lose weight, exercise and/or eat healthier.  This is because after days on end of constant drinking, eating and sleeping people tend to realize that it’s time for a change. New year, new me!

How big is the fitness spend in January?

Not surprisingly, the fitness market increases dramatically during this month. One study shows that during January, 25 to 34 year-olds spend an incredible £1066 on self-improving their image. On average £220 is spent on clothes, £140 on diets, £111 on fitness tools and £72 on gym memberships. Commitments to a new diet, Dry January, Veganuary and gym memberships explode during this month.

Wellness Industries

In 2017, the Global Wellness Institute calculated that The Wellness market globally was worth $4.2 trillion! Within it, ‘Healthy Eating, Nutrition and Weight Loss’ was worth $702 billion and ‘Fitness & Mind-Body’ $595 billion. In only two years this market sector has grown 12.8%, clearly showing the massive increase of people focusing on their health and well-being each year.

Dry January

After opening and emptying never-ending bottles with friends and family, many take the pledge to give up alcohol; run by the charity Alcohol Change UK, millions commit to giving up drinking for 31 days. In 2019 more than 4 million people took part in Dry January. Some do it to save money, others to detox, others to increase their energy levels and many to improve their health.

Veganuary

Another commitment many people take is ‘Veganuary’, a month of plant based eating from a charity set up to promote veganism. Participants stop eating animal products and for many, being vegan is not easy, this is why Veganuary uses recipes and eating guides on their website to facilitate the transition. Also, this engagement has promoted hundreds of new vegan products and menus as many companies have noticed this movement is here to stay.

Gym Memberships

Finally, gym memberships bring more new members in January than any other month of the year. This is again due to all the consumption carried out throughout the holidays and the ‘new start, new year’ philosophy. Most of the UK has eaten turkey, pigs in a blanket, stuffing, potatoes and drank beverages such as champagne, beers, wine and spirit, often to excess. Gyms are very aware of this shift in mindset and cleverly advertise discounts and promotions to attract new and existing members. For example, Virgin Active attracts consumers with promotions such as ‘pay nothing until February’. PureGym also uses a no-joining fee technique to increase sign-ups.

With the increase in gym memberships, fashion brands also increase their activewear products. They produce garments at a very cheap price to attract consumers and stand out from the competition. I was walking in town and saw that Primark is promoting gym leggings for £10. But just how can these brands sell activewear (and clothes in general) at such inexpensive prices? What production methods do they use to manufacture such large quantities of garments at such a quick rate and low cost?

 

Greed over need

The truth about the clothing industry is shocking. Continued overconsumption and enormous competition has resulted in what is called ‘fast’ fashion. This business underpays and exploits garment workers, causes uncontrollable waste and destroys the environment. It’s no wonder this industry is comparable to single use-plastics. Synthetic fibres are created with oil, the same raw material that also creates plastic. Also, consumption nowadays produces garments that will be tossed away after barely a few uses. Consequently, most of the clothes end up incinerated or in a landfill.

In the last 15 years, production of clothing has doubled – and at the same time, between 2000 and 2015 the number of times a garment was worn before it was thrown out decreased by 36%. (Greenpeace UK, 2019)

Exploitation of garment workers

As if this wasn’t enough, fast fashion intensely exploits garment workers to produce the maximum amount of clothes at frightening cheap prices. These people work from 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week only to obtain miserable wages, the bare minimum to survive. On top of that, every day they breath in toxic air, work in an unsafe building and get mentally and physically abused. Unfortunately, this is the ugly truth behind most, if not all the clothes we have in our wardrobe.

Fashion and our toxic environment

Not only does fast fashion negatively impact the world socially, but also environmentally. This unsustainable industry is the second largest pollutant in the world affecting our seas, air and soil. The wastewater coming from the factories pollutes the waters affecting both the aquatic life and the people who live next to the riverbanks. Fast fashion also uses a colossal amount of freshwater for various procedures throughout the production of the garments. On average, one ton of dyed fabric utilizes 200 tons of freshwater and 1kg of cotton consumes 200,000 litres of water. This raw material, instead of using it for the fashion industry, could be given to multiple countries that do not have access to drinking water, making the world a less divided place.

Water is not the only victim affected by fast fashion. 85% of garments are thrown into landfills or incinerated which leads to waste accumulation. The planet’s soil is also seriously impacted by this industry due to the chemicals used in fibre creation, dyeing and bleaching. Last but not least, fashion produces 10% of all greenhouse gases as this industry exploits fossil fuels to create synthetic fibres.

Fit for you, fit for our future

Our resolutions to become fitter and healthier are based upon self-improvement so why is it, then, that we don’t transfer this ‘feel good’ feeling outwards, to the things we buy and consume? The world is rapidly changing. The advancement of technology, information and communications give us the chance to understand what is going on in the world. People are starting to wake up to harmful supply chains. Yet, how can a vegan assume ‘I’m helping the environment’ if they are constantly buying clothes from unsustainable brands that pollute our air and water? How can a gym member proudly state they’re improving their health when they’re buying cheap activewear and destroying the planet’s health? What is the real cost of those £10 leggings made from petrochemicals to the environment and to those that made them?

It’s time to make a conscious change, to include fitness and health in every aspect of our life. To become aware of our every action and the possible effect it will have on our surroundings, our home. After all, globally, we only have 10 years to get zero carbon emissions. We have the power to make a change, to stop the exploitation of our people and the planet by deciding to become a conscious consumer. By buying garments that are durable, healthy, versatile, and selecting brands that focus on quality, sustainability and circular economy. Brands such as United By Blue for everyday and outdoor clothing, Presca Teamwear for cycling and running and lastly RubyMoon for gym and swimming activities. It’s not too late to include some new year resolutions for 2020. Make this year more beneficial and sustainable for yourself, our children and for the planet.

Last but not least, Happy New Year!

Gym to Swim Activewear

Ethical and sustainable swimwear and activewear made from ocean plastics.

Featuring sports legging Helene, worn by Georgia.

Photo credit: SuddenIsland/Powel Gawronski

Bibliography

Alcohol Change UK. (2020). What is Dry January? | Alcohol Change UK. [online] Available at: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january/about-dry-january/what-is-dry-january [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Bentley, D. (2020). New Year, new you? This is how much we spend in January. [online] birminghammail. Available at: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/shopping/how-much-spend-january-gyms-14112005 [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Global Wellness Institute. (2020). Wellness Now a $4.2 Trillion Global Industry – Global Wellness Institute. [online] Available at: https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/press-room/press-releases/wellness-now-a-4-2-trillion-global-industry/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Greenpeace UK. (2020). Fast fashion – this industry needs an urgent makeover | Greenpeace UK. [online] Available at: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/fast-fashion-this-industry-needs-an-urgent-makeover/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Inc.com. (2020). 10 Top New Year’s Resolutions for Success and Happiness in 2019. [online] Available at: https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2019.html [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Nguyen, V. (2020). 10 Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions (With Apps to Help Achieve Them). [online] Parade. Available at: https://parade.com/243793/viannguyen/10-most-popular-new-years-resolutions-with-apps-to-help-achieve-them/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Puregym.com. (2020). Low-Cost 24 Hour Gym Memberships | No Contract | PureGym. [online] Available at: https://www.puregym.com [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Reuters. (2020). Britain’s fashion industry is exploitative and unsustainable: parliamentarians. [online] Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-fashion-retail/britains-fashion-industry-is-exploitative-and-unsustainable-parliamentarians-idUSKCN1PP005 [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

SustainYourStyle. (2020). SustainYourStyle. [online] Available at: https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Uk.veganuary.com. (2020). Veganuary. [online] Available at: https://uk.veganuary.com/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

Virgin Active. (2020). [online] Available at: https://www.virginactive.co.uk/promotions/generic?gclid=CjwKCAiA6bvwBRBbEiwAUER6JW8ekk2WJHlhRtS8I9WgY-hlK1XZlyybltkD9NHvO3VGp5fIHaGD_BoCZd0QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].

 

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