Fashion weeks are held all over the world towards the end of September and beginning of October. So now is the ideal opportunity to discuss how damaging the fashion industry is—and why fast fashion is the worst evil. Of course, after reading this article, you’ll understand what you can do to lessen fashion’s harmful impact on the environment, and also what will happen if we don’t stop fast fashion.
Why Is Fast Fashion a Problem?
Fast fashion is a relatively new phenomenon that has emerged in response to slow fashion. Prior to the industrial revolution, it took a very long time to obtain the raw ingredients for fabric and hand sew it into shape. As a result, people treasured their clothes and fixed them as much as they could before throwing them away when they were essentially rags. Customers benefitted from lower prices as the sector got more technologically advanced. Nowadays, manufacturers offer a diverse selection of clothing to fit every taste and budget. What a nightmare… No, absolutely not, when we consider the environmental impact! This is why.
Overproduction is one of the foundations of fast fashion. Fast fashion provides inexpensive and trendy clothing, but collections change with breakneck speed. H&M, Zara, Topshop, and other fast-fashion retailers update their collections every week! Such a volume-based business model cannot be sustained. The garment sector generates 92 million tons of textile waste per year. Surprisingly, around 30% of the garments created each season are never sold. These unsold clothing are frequently destroyed since it is less expensive and easier for the corporation to do so than to repurpose or recycle them.
In addition to wasting resources, the fast fashion business pollutes waterways with hazardous dyes and increases the quantity of microfibres in the ocean by using fossil fuel-based textiles. Due of the insecticides used to grow cotton, it also places great strain on water basins and increases drought risk in underdeveloped countries. Fashion, as one of the main sectors in the world economy, is responsible for driving climate change by emitting 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. The combined economies of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom emit the same amount.
Companies sacrifice quality in order to make their items cheaper. As a result, clothing wears out faster, prompting buyers to buy new ones at a much faster rate. This brings us to another modern-day problem: overconsumption. We now purchase 400% more apparel than we did twenty years ago. And this is not a declining trend. Clothing purchasing has evolved from a need to a passion over time. This leads in dozens of items in our closet that are soon declared “out of trend”. In comparison to 15 years ago, the average article of apparel is currently worn 36% fewer times.
Marketers persuade us that we must buy new trendy clothes right away. What should I do with all these “vintage” clothes? Unfortunately, 85% of us prefer to throw them away, resulting in 13 million tons of textile waste per year. Because 69% of clothing is comprised of synthetic fibers, the majority of discarded garments take hundreds of years to degrade in landfill. Natural fabrics, on the other hand, contribute to climate change by releasing methane in landfills.
In addition to these environmental issues, fast fashion is responsible for worker exploitation: garment plant employees frequently work exhaustingly long hours, receive low wages, and are frequently denied social guarantees.
What will happen if we don’t stop fast fashion?
Clothes donation appears to be an environmentally friendly way to dispose of unused clothing. However, only at first glance. When we dig deeper, we discover that only 10-40% of donated clothes find their new owner. When gifts are made in Europe or the United States, for example, the procedure is as follows:
- First, the best donations are selected for sale in wealthy countries’ charity shops. The remainder is shipped in bulk to purchasers in developing countries.
- Buyers rarely know what they’ll get, and the contents of bags deteriorate in quality year after year.
- The majority of unwanted merchandise is dumped, burnt, or, in rare situations, recycled into rags.
- So, before you donate your old things, consider why you opted to part ways with this dress or top. If it is too tiny, too loose, out of style, or simply does not make you happy but still looks decent, please give it. If you no longer desire it because it needs patching, has obstinate stains, or simply looks too worn, don’t put your issues on the shoulders of others. It’s preferable to remove badly worn-out garments and donate them to animal shelters for beddings, or to a charity shop that can verify it sends unsold goods for reuse—for example, to manufacturing factories that are continuously in need of rags.
Also you should ask yourself: Is fashion really important?
The figures on clothing recycling aren’t much better. Only 12% of the materials used to produce clothing are recycled globally. The majority of this is industrial waste collected straight from garment factories to be used as furniture stuffing, insulation, or cleaning cloths. Less than 1% is spent on new clothing. Because our garments are constructed of many material mixes, buttons, labels, and zippers, it is impossible to separate and recycle the materials one by one.