We’ve all, at some point in our lives, bought fast fashion, even if we didn’t know it. The term “Fast Fashion” refers to fashion items and trends that are produced as efficiently, cheaply and quickly as possible for consumerism – much like fast food.
The idea of this industry is to provide consumers the possibility of affordably changing their ‘look’ on a seasonal, monthly or weekly basis, depending on what’s promoted as being desirable from the catwalk. In fact, there are 52 micro seasons in fast fashion! This means there are new items in stores almost every week!!
Due to this continuous change, people don’t wear fast fashion items long explaining why they are often not designed to last; they are produced at inferior quality for speedier quantity. This propagates a dangerously wasteful mentality, promoting mass pollution and ultimately, the very destruction of life on Earth.
There are long lists of reasons why fast fashion is hazardous to our planet.
It boils down to mass pollution from industry and ineffective waste management strategies.
Every part of the process that made your next “must-have” outfit leaves a smoky, bloody mark on the environment. Chemicals sprayed over the textile crops start off with stripping the land bare of fertility and destroying animal homes. Not to mention exploitation of workers who actually produce these items.
Dyeing, printing and many other operations allow bleach and heavy metals to be washed out into our rivers and seas, killing marine life and adding to global hazards, like acid rain. Smoke stack emissions from certain fashion processes leak greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, polluting our lungs and tearing a hole in our ozone layer.
Your outfit was literally “to die for”!
The greatest tragedy as a result of fast fashion however (aside from unconsciously trying kill our own species) is that we throw that must-have outfit away after a brief period of use for another lethal fashion trend! These clothes land up in landfills and do not biodegrade quickly due to the chemicals used in their production. Instead, they emit methane into the air and toxic chemicals into groundwater, which adds to climate change, pollution and acid rain.
Fast fashion is not only a catastrophe on an environmental level, but also on a socio-economic level.
To produce such large volumes of cheaper clothes annually, a few countries, such as India, Ukraine, Bangladesh and China, adopt very cheap labour forces and put them to work in unsavoury conditions. Not only are they forced to work at less than minimum wage, accidents occur often as workers are subject daily to the same harsh pollutants destroying our planet.
The fast fashion line of thinking originated with the beginning of industrialisation across the globe and business strategies revolving around delivering quickly to consumers sprouted up first in the 80s.
Industry has managed to standardise fashion with the use of overly glamorous advertising, promoting products as being desirable from run-way to clothing store. The current prospects of maximising on profits for industry appear to far outweigh having a future in which to make profits. Governments also play a role in endorsing these destructive ideals, as in many countries there are not strict enough regulations put in place for industrial activities.
While it is convenient to just point fingers at both the fashion industry and governments, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves, the consumer!
By mindlessly consuming the latest trends, not questioning where these clothes came from and constantly and throwing away apparel like apple cores into the trash, you are enticing the industry to continue this madness!
As a consumer, we have choices. If every single person started making responsible consumption choices, the fashion industry would have to adhere to the standards we collectively enforce! There are so many clothes that have been tossed out, that one could clothe the entire world’s population a few times over.
Instead of supporting this industry blindly, question where your clothes come from and who and what suffered as a result of its production; Support second-hand stores that recycle clothing or support organic clothing that can decompose easily and naturally. Look after your clothing, revamp it and/or pass it on when you are done using it; don’t throw it away!
These are a few easy ways we can start to pick up the pieces and reclaim our Earth from abuse and pollution.