As consumers, we’re constantly devouring the latest trends. Naturally, we’re keen to be up to date with brands; buy what looks good. However, these fashion fads have made us possible scapegoats of the Fashion industry’s largest unethical practice: Fast Fashion.
Shopping has become easy. We spot clothes we like and convince ourselves that the price tag is great – we’ve either spotted a deal or the high price is definitely worth it. If it’s relatively cheap, we tend to buy more. The practice of buying more cheap clothing has led us to develop a mindset of ‘Use and Throw’. The constant practice of purchasing more clothes at a cheaper price while wanting to stay trendy support ‘Fast Fashion’.
So, what exactly is Fast Fashion? In layman terms, it’s simply the quick mass production of inexpensive clothing in response to new and upcoming trends. These clothes are made using cheap material and have cheaper prices attached to them. Similar to our ‘use and throw’ mentality, these clothes are deliberately made for a short life-span. Due to the ‘fast’ production of clothes to remain trendy – these clothes are made of synthetic materials or micro-plastics that are non-biodegradable. Sure, cheap clothing might be great in regards of spending – however, these materials do not break down and have detrimental impacts on the environment. For a small price now, we’ll be paying a hefty price later.
According to the Ellen Mcarthur Foundation, clothing production has doubled in the past 15 years. Along with this over production, an estimated $500 billion is lost due to clothing that hasn’t been worn of recycled. This is not only alarming but also unsustainable. In relation to the current climate change uproar, the clothing and textile industry is the second largest polluter in the world. Fashion further contributes to creating 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. To create a simple t-shirt and a pair of jeans, more than 5,000 gallons of water is used. Today, the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global water pollution.
So, what are some examples of Fast Fashion brands? H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Zaful, Boohoo, Fashion Nova etc. According to Green Matters, a brand offering thousands of styles that are known to be trendy and have cheap, low quality material – it is possibly a fast fashion brand.
‘What do you want me to do? Stop wearing clothes?”
No. We obviously need clothing, it’s an essential! However, what we can do is help reshape the Fashion industry to adopt more sustainable practices. As consumers, we do have power in influencing our favourite brands to be environmentally friendly.
The good news is that more clothing companies are changing business models which require their supply chains to reduce overall environmental impacts. Earlier this month, fast fashion companies such as Zara and H&M have now promised to be more proactive with their fashion practices. Zara has now ensured that all their clothes are made of 100% sustainable fabrics by the year 2025. H&M has also further promised that all its products will be recycled or sourced sustainably by 2030. Similarly, there are plenty of smaller companies that are offering sustainable options; however, to adopt a environmentally-conscious method would be an industry-wide phenomenon.
Nevertheless, sustainable fashion doesn’t only involve fashion industries in making a positive difference, but us too. It’s not just about creating a product more responsibly – but the whole concept of changing supply chains and improving our consumption practices.
Check out my next post on how you can make better fashion choices for yourself and the environment.