Fast Fashion and it's implications
H&M. Zara. Forever 21. Asos. FashionNova. Stitch Fix. Trunk Club
Over the last few years, these ‘fast fashion’ giants have emerged, thriving on our insatiable consumerist culture which has successfully conditioned us to believe we can be happier if we have More Stuff.
It’s hardly a secret fashion is one of the most polluting industries on the planet. Toxic chemicals are the bedrock of textile dyeing while the simple act of washing polyester fabric sheds plastic into water systems with every cleaning. The sheer amount of water and pesticides used in cotton production have been known to cause drought and have been linked to cancer in India. That’s only on the manufacturing end of things. There's also the rampant textile waste that comes from the public consumption of fast fashion the buying, wearing and disposing of a garment only after only a few wears.
The result? The fashion industry is now the second largest generator of pollution on Earth after oil. And when clothing made of natural fibers like cotton ends up in landfill, it behaves much like food waste; producing the greenhouse gas methane3 as it degrades in the abnormal, anaerobic environment. Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon are essentially made of plastic and don’t biodegrade at all. Both types of clothing will have been bleached, dyed and printed with chemicals during the production process and once in landfill, these chemicals leach into the soil and groundwater. The cast-offs of our hunger for cheap fashion are literally poisoning the earth.
While many brands are trying to incorporate more sustainable practices into their already existing businesses, it’s hardly proving to be enough to combat the massive amount of waste and pollution that fashion creates.
This demand has resulted in a marked rise in new and emerging fashion brands that are fully sustainable, like Wearpact and LALF, while online vintage retailers like TheRealReal and Poshmark are committed to significantly reducing clothing consumption by attempting to shift values towards shopping secondhand, positioning it as the ultimate sustainable solution.
Luckily, there are alternative solutions that one can partake in to become a more conscious consumer:
Buy second hand
Buy good quality clothing that is ethically produced
Buy what you NEED rather than what you WANT.
Stop mindlessly supporting cheap brands that are made to not last.
Repair what you can (some shops such as Patagonia offer free repair on all their clothes).
Put simply, though, just buy less and buy smart.