QUICK & DIRTY FACTS:
Fashion has a big impact on us and it’s almost all bad. Fast fashion offers the chance to buy low-cost, one-time-wear fashion items made to look like designer clothes for pennies. Unfortunately, this comes at an extreme cost to the planet, fast fashion workers, and our own perceptions of value. Billions of dollars are spent convincing us to mindlessly buy, consume, wear once and throw away.
Now, let’s look at exactly why that’s so terrible:
FAST FASHION IS ALMOST ALWAYS UNETHICAL
“93% of brands surveyed by the Fashion Checker aren’t paying garment workers a living wage” (Fashion Checker, 2020)
Fast fashion production facilities are usually built in countries that are referred to as ’emerging’ or ‘developing markets’. Fast fashion retailers recruit workers in emerging markets as a means of having a cheap workforce. But, too often, this type of hiring leads to exploitation, unfair wages, and extreme workloads. Cheap fast fashion prices come at the expense of someone else.
FAST FASHION POLLUTES THE PLANET
“Clothing production is the third biggest manufacturing industry after the automotive and technology industries. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined” (House of Common Environmental Audit Committee, 2019)
Fast fashion brands want to lower production costs. Period. Nothing else. Because of this, they neglect the sustainability aspect of production, starting from using non-biodegradable fabrics that are fully processed with chemicals, to throwing production waste into water streams, lakes, and oceans.
All this water from fast fashion brands washing, using solvents and dyes in their manufacturing are responsible for one-fifth of industrial water pollution.
But, fast fashion companies take no responsibility for the resources harmed in their manufacturing processes. Aka, the waters filled with dyes and chemicals are simply returned to the waterways with no cleaning or filtering. Dyes, and all. Yum.
Fashion accounts for 20 to 35 percent of microplastic flows into the ocean, which goes into the fish. Which ends up on your plate. We are essentially consuming plastic at this point.
FAST FASHION DOESN’T GET RECYCLED
Where does your clothing go when it’s not needed anymore? Probably into the trash. Most of the fast fashion purchased around the world is thrown away. Not only by consumers but all by the stores themselves. Instead of recycling or donating unsold items, most fast fashion companies damage, burn or destroy the products. This leads to terrifying losses of natural and financial resources.
“The average American throws away around 81 pounds of clothing yearly” (Saturday Evening Post, 2018)
Clothing has become so readily available that we started thinking of garments as ‘disposable’. Gone are the days of sewing, repairing, and reusing out items. So whether we mean to or not, by thinking of our clothing as short-term tools rather than long-term investments, we are contributing waste, overconsumption, and massive pollution all of which put us on the quick path to drastic climate change.
The impact is real and the consequences are terrifying.
So let’s all do our parts. Less buying what we don’t need. Choosing long-term items. Wearing 2nd hand and vintage when possible. And educating our loved ones about returning to slow-fashion.