What Is Fast Fashion?
The recently coined term fast fashion, has quickly become one of the worst polluting industries in the world. Fast fashion’s carbon footprint is second behind the oil industry. Understanding the environmental impact of this movement is essential in understanding another cause of climate change and what choices we can take to make a difference. Fast fashion is the process of big brands like Forever 21, H&M, Uniqlo, and Zara pumping out cheap runway styles constantly for consumers. This luxurious process seems like it comes easy, but it follows with a hefty price.
Up until the mid-twentieth century fashion ran on four seasons, fall, winter, spring, and summer. That was before fashion became accessible to everyone. Since then, the fashion industry has quickened its pace, and today there are a little over 50 seasons a year. The manufacturing process allows for cheap quick production, based off of the excessive and never-ending demand.
Many of these garments are made from synthetic man-made materials like nylon, full of lead, grown from pesticides, and combined with countless other chemicals that will never break down. All of these toxic synthetics harm the people making them, the people who wear them, and life on earth. People making the fast fashion are known to be underpaid and underfed in horrible working conditions where they are breathing in these carcinogenic chemicals. Our skin is our body’s largest organ, and we abuse it with the clothing we wear every day. The clothing made spends their lifespan releasing toxic chemicals into our water systems, the air we breathe, and the skin on our bodies.
Here are some Fast Facts
• 700 gallons of water is needed to make just ONE cotton t-shirt, and overall, textile industries withdraw around 4% of the globe’s fresh water supply per year.
• 80 billion pieces of clothing are thrown away world-wide annually. That is a little over 11 items of clothing per person on the planet, or 242 per U.S citizen.
• 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile treatments and dyeing. Whether that comes directly from the plant, or indirectly when consumers buying the product wash the clothes.
For the Non-Reader
Watch Netflix’s The Patriot Act here with award winning comedian Hasan Minhaj to learn more about fast fashion. This show is a comic wake-up call approach for audiences to start paying attention to what is going on all around us, and this episode perfectly wraps up many of the issues surrounding the ways in which fast fashion is a threat to the planet.
• First and foremost reduce, re-use, and Up-cycle clothing! Luckily for the environmentally savvy, thrifting is IN. Personally, I find some of my best styles and looks from local thrift stores and places like plato’s closet and the Salvation Army. It’s inexpensive, and sifting through all of the clothing is worth it to find one-of-a-kind and unique outfits to show off. Many consignment shops, and modern thrifts will buy your clothes for ca$$$h!
• Reselling clothes in general are a great way to bring in some extra money in our broke pockets, and give clothing a longer life and a new, loving home.
• Buy less, invest in quality clothing, and wear sustainable fashion! Choose clothing made with natural dyes and fibers so they don’t leak back into the environment and pollute our water and soil. On Etsy there is plenty of naturally dyed, handmade clothing from a variety of sellers. AnthemiaCO founded by Barrie Cohen is a Brooklyn based company, she dies her fabrics out of plants. Olderbrother based out of Portland offers another source for ethically dyed clothing ranging from Turmeric, to Hibiscus. Tentree is another option I am adding to the mix, buying an item buys the planting of ten trees. They offer clothing made from Hemp, recycled polyester fibers, and wearable wood pulp… Cool, right?
• Be an outfit repeater, you can style clothes so many different ways and you don’t have to just wear it once and throw it away! If you have a specific event that you would only wear a dress or suit once to, Rent The Runway is an awesome way to save time, money and the environment. You get your dream looks while not breaking the bank, or watching a one-time look waste away in a closet.
Check out my previous post! The Dirty Secret Behind Candles