At its conception, the business model of fast fashion was hailed as an innovative and democratic way to bring fashion, status and individualism to the masses and lower socioeconomic classes.
In this endeavour, it has certainly succeeded. Due to globalization and the outsourcing of fashion manufacturing to lower income countries, fashion production has become amazingly fast – with new trends arriving every week from the catwalks – and has been made drastically more affordable.
Unfortunately, this speed and convenience comes at a cost. These new, accelerated fashion cycles are encouraging overconsumption within the fashion industry. Instead of buying considered quality items that are taken care of and repaired over a long period of time, fast fashion encourages people to buy cheap and buy often.
To make room for these new clothes that are constantly coming into our ever-expanding wardrobes, it also means that people are throwing away clothing at unprecedented rates, creating a huge fashion waste issue. According to this report, one garbage truck of clothes is being burnt or sent to landfill every second.
To make matters worse, many items of clothing from fast fashion stores are made from cheap, synthetic materials such as polyester, which can take up to 200 years to breakdown. Considering the rate that we are making, buying, and then disposing of these items – we’re creating much more pollution than we can handle.
This doesn’t even factor in the pollution issues that arise in the production chains of these fast fashion brands. From overuse of pesticides, to clean water pollution from chemicals and dyes, to carbon emissions and transportation, plastic packaging, dumping or burning of dead stock – there are many environmental ‘costs’ that are not being considered in the mass production of these seemingly ‘cheap’ items.
Of course, it’s not only environmental costs, but social costs as well. Many workers in developing countries – most of them women – rely on these jobs to survive, but the conditions are terrible and the work safety and living wage requirements are not being met.
What can be done? Firstly we need to encourage governments and businesses to help modify and innovate the way we produce and consume fashion, so that it does not have such a profound negative impact on our world.
Voting for candidates who care about these issues is a fantastic first step, or supporting brands who share and (very importantly) ACT on values related to sustainability and transparency in their day to day operations. For help with this, I would recommend this app, Good On You. On a more personal or consumer level, it’s important to understand these issues so that we can start make better and more informed buying decisions.
To understand the issues in more depth and see more possible solutions, please view and share the infographic below.
Article Submitted By Community Writer