Highgate School's Fast Fashion-Free February campaign gains traction

Highgate pupil sewing

A Highgate pupil creating sustainable fashion in a craft workshop - Credit: Diarmuid McDonald

A Highgate School's sustainable fashion campaign is going national with other education establishments following its lead.

The school's Fast Fashion-Free February (FFFF) campaign, now in its fourth year, has grown in popularity.

Year 12 pupils Daphne and Mia, from the Highgate Environment Committee said the project is a month dedicated to raising awareness about the detrimental impacts of fast fashion and promoting sustainable fashion.

pupils in craft workshop

Highgate pupils having a 'crafternoon' session as part of their Fast Fashion-Free February campaign - Credit: Diarmuid McDonald

A  programme of events were held this month including a non-uniform day, an "oldest item of clothing" competition, a second-hand clothes bring and buy sale, a knitting, mending and upcycling circle and a scrunchie and facemask making workshop.

Daphne said their weekly "crafternoons" on Zoom last year were a "highlight of lockdown"

She said: "Many people buy clothes without carefully considering the environmental and humanitarian impacts of their purchases.

"Fast fashion can be very tempting, it is easy to be drawn in by the low prices and constantly changing stock of brands."

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The students said buying from favoured high street shops had ''hidden and distressing consequences".

These include the synthetic materials such as polyester that can take centuries to biodegrade, while dyes and chemicals used in the manufacture of the clothes contribute to water pollution.

Highgate pupils during Fast Fashion-Free February

Highgate pupils during Fast Fashion-Free February - Credit: Diarmuid McDonald

Sarah Mynott, lead teacher for the environment at the North Road independent school, said the staging of the world's four big fashion weeks take place in February , so running a simultaneous campaign was "appropriate and empowering for us all".

She added: "The fashion industry is the world's second largest polluter, after oil and gas.

"It's something that all of us can do something about every day, ranging from buying fewer clothes and boycotting fast fashion brands, to buying second-hand or ethically-sourced clothing, to simply looking after our clothes and repairing them when they get damaged."

The school collaborated with the UK Schools Sustainability Network this year to spread the message.

The Fast Fashion-Free February badge by Highgate School pupils

The Fast Fashion-Free February badge by Highgate School pupils - Credit: Diarmuid McDonald

Mia said: "In the meeting Daphne and I talked about the origins of FFFF and what events Highgate is holding. We all collaborated on various ideas.

"It has been very encouraging to see how much this important campaign has spread. The more schools that take part, the more people will know about the damaging impact clothing can have."