Most of us have probably heard of fast fashion at some point, and most of us also partake in it; however, do we all know what goes on behind the scenes? The impact that it has on the planet and people?
If you have not for some reason heard of it, Sustain Your Style defines fast fashion as, “cheap clothing which is mass-produced”. It has been going on for quite some time and major clothing brands take advantage of it. They can buy clothes for cheap and sell them for much more to earn a profit. The clothes are always in style- leaving their customers satisfied.
Fast fashion is definitely not sustainable and contributes to an enormous amount of waste annually. It has a global effect and is a growing problem, which needs to be significantly reduced. Customers are more prone to purchase the articles of clothing as they are often cheaper and considered to be trendy.
The impact that the fashion industry has upon the planet and people is massive. Some of its effects include an increase in greenhouse gases, water usage, chemical waste, deforestation, and terrible working conditions.
Every single year, 85% of the clothes end up in the dump according to Business Insider. The clothing is left to pile up in landfills in less developed countries; according to Sustain Your Style, the second-largest polluter is the fast fashion industry. The clothes can also be burnt, leading to air pollution due to greenhouse gases which are released into the air. Sustain Your Style states that, these toxic gases make up 10% of carbon emissions. It is not fair that these countries have to be responsible for all this waste that is created and not to mention the serious health effects due to the emissions.
2. Water Usage
Water plays a huge role in the creation of clothes. Sustain Your Style states that, “22,000 liters of toxic waste is dumped into the rivers in Bangladesh every day”. The toxic water is from the textile shops (where the clothes are produced) and is due to the enormous amount of water needed to dye or finish the clothes. Dyeing clothes, washing them, and cleaning different materials requires a lot of water and energy to do so. Furthermore, the toxic water results in runoff which can be quite hazardous to aquatic life- leading to serious problems in the future.
The way that the workers are treated in addition to their working environment is horrific. They are overworked, underappreciated and underpaid. The workers are being taken advantage of by large corporations who refuse to pay them more. They are met with verbal and physical abuse; work in unsafe buildings and are prone to catching diseases. These workers are in need of a job and continue to work despite the mistreatment that they face. Child labour is also common in textile factories- mainly young girls who have to work and suffer from the poor working conditions. What is happening to these workers is appalling and completely unjust. Fairtrade needs to be implemented, which is when the workers will receive fair pay for the work that they have done.
Currently, the #PayUp Movement is trending due to large corporations refusing to pay their workers in Bangladesh during the pandemic*.
What can you do?
You may be wondering what you could do to help out, so fear not as I have suggested potential solutions below:
I would assume that many of us know what thrifting is as it is quite trendy right now. It is when an individual goes to thrift shops to purchase second-hand clothes. This can include older vintage pieces or even newer items. It is always an exciting experience and you can find some great pieces.
2. Apps to Use
If you are looking to shop from home and buy some clothes, then you should consider using apps such as Depop. Customers can purchase second-hand clothing items from individuals like themselves. The clothes are usually much cheaper and there are a lot of unique pieces that you can find! Other apps that you could try out are, eBay, Poshmark, thredUP etc.
3. Sustainable Brands
There are some amazing sustainable clothing brands that you can purchase from that may also sell fair trade products. Though the clothing items can be costly, they are an investment; much better for the planet as well. Some of these brands would include Pact, Alternative Apparel, Levi’s, Reformation and many more which you could check on The Good Trade.
The fashion industry is gigantic, and the impact that it has on our planet is quite significant. By limiting our purchases from brands which partake in fast fashion, we could help to reduce the negative environmental impact it has. By raising awareness on this issue, we are also able to be better informed on the social issues concerning the fast fashion industry.
*Make sure to check out this website and to learn more about the #PayUp Movement, https://www.supportgarmentworkers.org