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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from  BBC Learning English. I'm Georgina

  • And I'm Neil.

  • In this programme, we're talking about buying  

  • clothes and only wearing them a few  times before buying more clothes!

  • This is something known as  fast fashionit's popular,  

  • it might make us feel good, but  it's not great for the environment.

  • Which is why lots of people this year are pledging  – or promising publicly - to buy no new clothes.

  • I for one am wearing the same  shirt I bought seven years ago.

  • You're certainly not a fashion  victim, Neil! But first,  

  • let's test your knowledge of  fast fashion with a question.  

  • Do you know how many items of clothing were  sent to landfill in the UK in 2017? Was it… 

  • a) 23 million items, b) 234 million items or 

  • c) 2.3 billion items What do you think, Neil?

  • I'm sure it's lots, but not billionsso I'm going to say 23 million items.

  • I shall tell you if you're right  at the end of the programme.  

  • Let's talk more about fast fashion, which is  being blamed for contributing to global warming.

  • And discarded clothesthat means ones  that are thrown away - are also piling  

  • up in landfill sites, and fibre fragments are  flowing into the sea when clothes are washed.

  • It's not greatand I've heard the average  time someone wears something is just seven!  

  • So why is this, and what is driving  our desire to keep buying more clothes?

  • I think we should hear from  fashion journalist Lauren Bravo,  

  • who's been speaking on the BBC  Radio 4 programme, You and Yours.  

  • She explained that clothes today are relatively  cheaper than those from her parents' days

  • A lot of clothing production got outsourced  - offshored over to the developing world,  

  • so countries like Indonesia, India, Bangladesh  and China are now responsible for making the  

  • vast bulk of all the clothes that are sold  in the UK. And with that, we've seen what  

  • we call 'chasing the cheapest needle' around  the world, so the fashion industry constantly  

  • looking to undercut competitors, and with that  clothes getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper.

  • Right, so clothesin the developed  world at leasthave become cheaper  

  • because they are produced in developing countries.  

  • These are countries which are trying to become  more advanced economically and socially.

  • So production is outsourcedthat means work  usually done in one company is given to another  

  • company to do, often because that company  has the skills to do it. And in the case of  

  • fashion production, it can be done cheaper by  another company based in a developing country.

  • Lauren used an interesting expression  'chasing the cheapest needle' – so the  

  • fashion industry is always looking to  find the company which can make clothes  

  • cheaper – a company that can undercut another  one means they can do the same job cheaper.

  • Therefore the price of  clothes gets cheaper for us.

  • OK, so it might be good to be  able to buy cheaper clothes.  

  • But why do we have to buy more –  and only wear items a few times?

  • It's all about our obsession  with shopping and fashion.  

  • It's something Lauren Bravo goes  on to explain on the You and Yours  

  • radio programme. See if you can hear  what she blames for this obsession

  • Buying new things has almost become a trend  in itself for certain generations. I think  

  • that feeling that you can't be seen in the same  thing twice, it really stems from social media,  

  • particularly. And quite often people are buying  those outfits to take a photo to put on Instagram.  

  • It sounds illogical, but I think when all of your  

  • friends are doing it there is  this invisible pressure there.

  • Lauren makes some interesting points. Firstly,  

  • for some generations, there is  just a trend for buying things.

  • It does seem very wasteful, but, as Lauren sayssome people don't like to be seen wearing the same  

  • thing twice. And this idea is caused by social  mediashe uses the expression 'stems from'.

  • She describes the social pressure of needing  to be seen wearing new clothes on Instagram.  

  • And the availability of cheap  clothes means it's possible to post  

  • new images of yourself wearing  new clothes very regularly.

  • Hmm, it sounds very wasteful and to  me, illogicalnot reasonable or  

  • sensible and more driven by emotions  rather than any practical reason.

  • But, there is a bit of a backlash nowthat's  a strong negative reaction to what is happening.  

  • Some people are now promising to buy second-hand  clothes, or 'vintage clothes', or make do with the  

  • clothes they have and mend the ones they needIt could be the start of a new fashion trend.

  • Yes, and for once, I will  be on trend! And it could  

  • reduce the amount of clothes sent to  landfill that you mentioned earlier.

  • Yes, I asked if you knew how many items  of clothing were sent to landfill in the  

  • UK in 2017? Was it… a) 23 million items

  • b) 234 million items or c) 2.3 billion items 

  • What did you say, Neil?

  • I said a) 23 million items.

  • And you were wrong. It's actually 234  million itemsthat's according to  

  • the Enviro Audit Committee. It also found that 1.2  

  • billion tonnes of carbon emissions is  released by the global fashion industry.

  • Well, we're clearly throwing away too many clothes  

  • but perhaps we can recycle some of  the vocabulary we've mentioned today?

  • I think we can, starting with pledging  - that means publicly promising to do  

  • something. You can make a pledge to do something.

  • When something is outsourced,it  is given to another company to do,  

  • often because that company has the skills  to do it or it can be done cheaper.

  • And if one company undercuts another, it  charges less to do a job than its competitor.

  • The expression stems from means 'is caused by' or  

  • 'a result of'. We mentioned that rise in fast  fashion stems from sharing images on Instagram.

  • And we mentioned this being illogicalSo it seems unreasonable - not sensible,  

  • and more driven by emotions  rather than any practical reason.

  • And a backlash is a strong negative  reaction to what is happening.

  • And that brings us to the end of our discussion  about fast fashion! Please join us again next  

  • time. Bye. Bye.

  • Hello and welcome to Six Minute English.  I'm Neil and joining me today is Danwho  

  • is weighed down with shopping bags and wearing  something verystrange. What's going on, Dan?

  • Hi everyone. Well, I was feeling a bit miserable  so I decided to cheer myself up by going shopping!

  • Well that's lucky because the link  between shopping and mood is what  

  • we're looking at in this 6 Minute  Englishand of course we'll be  

  • giving you six mood and shopping-related  vocabulary items. But first, our quiz:

  • Online shoppers in which  country spend more per household  

  • than consumers in any other country, according  to a report from the UK Cards Association?

  • a) The USA

  • b) Norway

  • c) The UK

  • Norway seems to come top of lots of lists, so  for that reason alone I'm going to say Norway.

  • We'll find out at the end of the show.  

  • Now, Dan, you said just now that you went  shopping because you were feeling down.

  • That's right – I like a bit of retail therapy.

  • Retail therapy is a humorous expression which  means going shopping to make yourself feel better.

  • Oh, I do that all the time.

  • Yes, I can see. And you're not aloneAccording to some research done by the  

  • website moneysupermarket.com, people are more  likely to buy things they'll later regret  

  • when they're feeling sad, bored or stressed.

  • Well I was feeling a bit down in the  dumps. And that's a way of saying 'sad'.

  • Oh dear, Dan. Sorry to hear you've been down  in the dumps. I only hope you don't also get a  

  • pang of regret about your purchases when you get  them homethe research suggests that you will.

  • A pang is a sharp pain. We often  hear it used figuratively to talk  

  • about strong emotions like guilt, regret and  remorse. You're making me feel worse, Neil

  • Sorry Danit's all for educational purposesOur audience will learn from your pain!  

  • Remorse is like regretand there's a good  expression to describe exactly that bad feeling  

  • you get when you realise you don't really need  or want the thing you've bought. Buyer's remorse.

  • OK, OK, OK enough about me. Let's hear from SamPhil and Catherine from the Learning English team  

  • to see if their mood affects the shopping  choices they make. Listen carefully. Can  

  • you hear the three types of things they say  that they buy when they're down in the dumps?

  • Honestly, I tend to buy food. Anything that  will bring me comfort, so it can be any sort of  

  • warm drink, hot drink but also anything kind  of warm and cosyso like a nice jumper.

  • Definitely, if I've had a bad day at workor for whatever reason or I feel terrible,  

  • tired, I am more likely to  buy something on the way home.

  • Oh when I'm feeling sad, I probably buylittle bit of wine and often something to  

  • wear. I find that a bit of retail therapy when  I'm sad usually does the trick at the time,  

  • so it makes me feel better. But I do  find that when I look in my wardrobe,  

  • the things that I bought when  I was sad – I never wear them.

  • Sam, Phil and Catherine there  from the BBC Learning English team  

  • talking about what kind of things they buy  when they're feeling down. What were they?

  • Food, drink and clothes.

  • That's right. Sam mentioned she buys  food, warm drinks and a nice jumper  

  • to keep her cosy. That's the feeling  of being warm, comfortable and relaxed.

  • Catherine also mentioned drinksthis time  wine. And she also said that buying clothes  

  • does the trick. That means achieves the result  

  • she intended. She feels down, she buys  clothes, she feels betterit does the trick.

  • But what's interesting is that  Catherine said she never wears the  

  • clothes she buys when she's feeling  sad. That's exactly what the survey  

  • foundpeople regret the purchases they  make when they're sad, bored or stressed.

  • Sounds like a case of buyer's remorse.

  • Indeed. Well, time now for the answer  to our quiz question. I asked this:  

  • Online shoppers in which country spend more per  household than consumers in any other country,  

  • according to a report from the  UK Cards Association? Is it:

  • a) The USA 

  • b) Norway c) The UK

  • I said b) Norway.

  • And I'm afraid you might need to go  and buy some more stuff to cheer you  

  • upyou're wrong! The correct  answer is the UK. Apparently,  

  • UK households spent the equivalent of $5,900  (£4,611) using payment cards online in 2015.

  • Well, I hope they were happy when  they made those purchases or they  

  • may feel the pang of regret I'm scared  I might get after today's discussion!

  • Well, a good recap of the vocabulary  from this programme might do the trick.

  • Shall we start with the first word? Do you  ever go in for a bit of retail therapy, Neil?

  • Actually, I try to avoid it. Especially after  reading this survey – I don't think the happiness  

  • you feel after buying something lasts very longIn fact, you can end up feeling down in the dumps.

  • Down in the dumps - meaning sad/unhappy. Yes  and a pang of regret might follow once you  

  • realise you've spent a lot of money  on something you don't really need.

  • A pang is a stabused here  figuratively to mean a sharp pain  

  • used to talk about strong emotions. And  after the pang can come buyer's remorse.

  • Hmm, I'm beginning to feel buyer's remorse from  

  • this leopard skin onesie. Seemed  like such a good idea at the time.

  • Well it does look cozy –  warm comfortable and relaxed,  

  • so I think if that's what you  wanted, it does the trick.

  • Does the trick, meaning  achieves the result you wanted.

  • OK before Dan heads off to buy even more stuff  he doesn't need, please remember to check out our  

  • Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. Bye!

  • Hello, and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.

  • And hello, I'm Rob.

  • Now, then, Rob, what do you know about unicorns?

  • Ah, well, the unicorn is a fantasy  creature from history. In our tradition,  

  • it looks like a white horse with a single spiral  horn coming out of its head. Why do you ask?

  • Well, funnily enough, unicorns are the topic  of this programme. Before we learn more though,  

  • a question. What do we call the study of  legendary creatures like the Loch Ness Monster,  

  • Big Foot and unicorns? Is it: a) Cryptozoology

  • b) Protozoology, or c) Paleozoology

  • Have you got any idea about that, Rob?

  • Ah, well, I know this because it was the topic  of a 6 Minute English programme a while back,  

  • in 2008, to be exact. So I think  I'll keep the answer to myself.

  • OK, well for everyone else, we'll have  the answer later in the programme.  

  • Over the last few years unicorns have been popping  up all over the place - on T-shirts, in movies,  

  • as toys and even in political conversations. Why  is this? Natalie Lawrence is a natural historian.  

  • She appeared on the BBC's Woman's Hour  programme to discuss the topic. Listen out  

  • for the answer to this question: Why does she  say people used to drink out of unicorn horns?

  • Those original stories were developed in a time  when magic actually existed in the world. The  

  • world was still very enchantedthe idea that  the unicorn is a very strong animal and also that  

  • could achieve magical feats, so unicorn horn  used to be seen as a panacea for all sorts of  

  • ills and a guard against poison. So people  used to drink out of unicorn horn cups to  

  • prevent themselves getting poisoned, and  I think that idea of it being magical and  

  • having magical powers has  still come through today.

  • Why did they drink from unicorn horn cups?

  • Well, they were supposed to have magical powers  

  • so people drank from them so  they wouldn't get poisoned.

  • Yes, she said they could perform magical feats.  A feat is something that is difficult to do  

  • or achieve - like recording this programme  without making a mistake, that's a real feat!

  • Well, we usually do it. It  must just be unicorn magic.

  • No, just the magic of editing, Rob!  

  • Now, she also said that unicorn horn was  seen as a panacea. What does that mean?

  • A panacea is another word for a cure  - something that can protect you from  

  • illness or help you recover if you are sickBut is all this true, about the unicorn horn?

  • Well, seeing as how unicorns  don't and never have existed,  

  • it's unlikely to be true. She says these stories  come from a time when the world was enchanted.  

  • This means it was a time when people believed in  magic and the possibility of mysterious creatures  

  • from mysterious parts of the world. It seems as if  these days people are looking for a bit of magic,  

  • a bit of enchantment in their lives. The  unicorn has also come to be a term commonly  

  • used in politics to refer to unrealistic ideas and  plans. Why is this? Here's Natalie Lawrence again.

  • Because it's such a potent  cultural symbol at the moment  

  • it's being deployed in one of the  most pressing issues of our time,  

  • as well, soand the idea of the UK trying  to be its own special unicorn potentially

  • So Rob, what is she talking about here?

  • Well, we are in a very complicated time  politically in the UK at the moment.  

  • She says they are pressing times. A term which  means something important but difficult has to be  

  • done in a very short time. A pressing matter is an  important one that has to be dealt with urgently.

  • Now, at the time of recording our parliament can't  agree on the current pressing matter of Brexit and  

  • each side says the other has unicorns. There's  nothing special or magical about these unicorns -  

  • it's a negative comment - a unicorn is a fantasy  idea - a plan that has no chance of working,

  • She says unicorns are a potent  symbol - which means they are  

  • a very strong and recognisable symbol.

  • And this symbol is being used, or as she said  being deployed. This is the same word that would  

  • be used when you send a military force somewhereYou deploy the army in a military conflict, and in  

  • the current political conflict they are deploying  the word 'unicorn'! Here's Natalie Lawrence again.

  • Because it's such a potent  cultural symbol at the moment  

  • it's being deployed in one of the  most pressing issues of our time,  

  • as well, soand the idea of the UK trying  to be its own special unicorn potentially

  • Right, our pressing matter now is the vocabulary  review. Before that though, the answer to this  

  • week's question: What do we call the study of  legendary creatures like the Loch Ness Monster,  

  • Big Foot and unicorns. Is it: a) Cryptozoology