Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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 fashion – it'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 billions, so 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 clothes – that 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 great – and 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 clothes – in the developed world at least – have 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 outsourced – that 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 says, some people don't like to be seen wearing the same thing twice. And this idea is caused by social media – she 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, illogical – not reasonable or sensible and more driven by emotions rather than any practical reason. But, there is a bit of a backlash now – that'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 need. It 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 items – that'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 illogical. So 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 Dan – who is weighed down with shopping bags and wearing something very… strange. 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 English – and 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 alone. According 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 home – the 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 Dan – it's all for educational purposes! Our audience will learn from your pain! Remorse is like regret – and 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 Sam, Phil 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 cosy – so like a nice jumper. Definitely, if I've had a bad day at work, or 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 buy a little 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 drinks – this 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 better – it 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 found – people 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 up – you'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 long. In 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 stab – used 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 enchanted … the 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 sick. But 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, so… and 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 somewhere. You 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, so… and 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, b) Protozoology, or c) Paleozoology? Rob, you knew the answer to this, didn't you? I did, yes. If you look back at our archive to September 2008 you will find an episode all about a) Cryptozoology. Well done, if you got that right - particularly if you remember that programme! Now, vocabulary from this programme. There was enchanted to talk about a time when magic was believed to be real. A feat is something that is very difficult to achieve and a panacea is a cure.