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You’re excited for your girl gang’s get-away coming up this weekend, and you are out looking for the perfect dress in the mall. You love the colours and the shine. You and the girls walk into that store with the trendiest of outfits- they never carry the same stock twice. You pick out this adorable dress, it looks so beautiful- you buy it in an instant. It is trendy, and would fit perfectly with your vacation surroundings.
But I am sure, like me, you also can never wear the same dress out more than twice. No matter how much I loved it, I just could not bring myself to be seen wearing the same fancy dress too many times. But recently, I learnt where the unbought stock goes. And I learnt why fast fashion is not a sustainable choice- for the environment, or even your pocket.
Here’s what fast fashion really is- its problems and how you can easily reduce the harm caused.
Fast Fashion and Why it is Harmful
Fast fashion is an up and coming term but an old trend which essentially leads consumers to believe that clothes are disposable items. You know you also believe that clothes can just be disposed off, right? Admit it….
Clothes are believed to be things you can change as quickly as the seasons go- in the latest fashion profile, as some would say. And so they’re made to be of a lower quality so they can be sold for cheap.
The problem here is, that these fashionable clothes are based on trends that don’t really stick, hence necessitating the consumer to buy more of it. The low-quality forces people into this negative loop where they keep buying more and more clothes that will just be polluting the environment in a few months.
We know how luxurious it feels to give your wardrobe a makeover every few months, but we need to also realise the impact this causes on the environment- and even to our pockets.
This fast fashion habit rapidly depletes the earth’s resources, both during production, and disposal. More so, it is the reason for exploitation of workers worldwide. But let’s talk just about the environmental effects here.
Impact on the environment
Just a small piece of fabric requires a tremendous amount of water for production. The fashion industry uses about 93 billion kilolitres of water yearly. That is enough water for 5 million people in a year.
A hundred and fifty million trees are chopped down to turn into fabric every year- for land clearing and plant pulps.
Fast fashion clothes are made of cheaper materials like polyester and other synthetic fibers which are just forms of plastic. With each wash, microplastics break off and eventually end up in the oceans. These microplastics are damaging our marine lives as you read this article.
The clothes we throw out without thinking too much result in half a million tons of plastic microfibers that can’t be filtered out and pollute the oceans. This is equivalent to the more apparent 50 billion plastic bottles polluting the oceans. These microplastics are spreading through the food chain tremendously and might even be present in our bodies now.
This continuous supply of new goods into the fashion market also means the continuous disposal of not-so old goods that are just going to end up causing harm.
You must be convinced by now why fast fashion must be ditched. But it is definitely confusing as to what the solution must be. We are very frequently bombarded by like- sounding terms that might just confuse us- let us now unravel what they mean.
Sustainable Fashion and its Ethical Umbrella
Sustainable fashion is a broad term that accounts for the whole life cycle of garments- right from the way it is made to its disposal. It factors in various aspects we should care about that go into the making of our clothes- the working conditions of artisans, the resources from nature and also how their usage affects us.
Learning about all of this helps us invest in clothes that last longer and cause less harm to the environment.
The terms you need to know
A lot of terms associate themselves to sustainability when it comes to clothing, and may be used interchangeably. It is important to know what they all mean in order to help you make better choices.
Sustainability is a very broad term that is basically meant for the environment, ie, environmental sustenance which means to deplete natural resources as little as possible in order to maintain an ecological balance. This goes for each step of interference, right from sourcing to disposing.
Sustainable fashion encompasses eco-friendly fashion, ethical fashion and slow fashion.
ECO FRIENDLY FASHION
Eco-friendly fashion focuses mainly on reducing the negative impact of the fashion industry on the planet. The products, or more specifically clothes, are made from fabrics that are eco-friendly or even recycled fabrics. Growing these only require organic processes and materials.
This means, a cotton dress for which the cotton was obtained from a pesticide- free farm, whose fibres underwent chemical-free processing, and the dyes employed were natural too.
Ethical fashion has more of a moral standpoint- it basically ensures fair wages and working conditions for the people who actually make our clothes. The fast fashion industry has a tendency to overwork their employees at the base level, and may overlook the facilities they work in.
This helps employ fair trade practices, which means no forced labor, no child labor, reasonable working hours and fair pay.
Ethical fashion may also include the cruelty-free segment of the environmental conservation movement. It means that your piece of clothing is made without harming any animals.
Cruelty-free and ethical fashion helps refrain from using materials, inks and other ingredients derived from animals, and say no to animal testing.
Finally coming to the most talked of, slow fashion.
It is a concept that is concerned mainly with the piece of clothing in question- or the number of uses you get out of it. Slow fashion is respectful of human living conditions, global resources and the harms associated. This challenges growth or fast fashion’s obsession with mass-production and globalized style and becomes a guardian of diversity.
The question is, how do you adapt your current lifestyle to incorporate sustainability in your wardrobe?
It is easy. Don’t immediately throw your existing clothes out and go for a sustainable shopping spree, instead keep wearing your own clothes or try fashioning them into your crafts or for making grocery bags and cushion covers. Throwing them right away only adds to the problem by increasing the waste which would just end up in landfills.
You can also swap out your clothing with your friends- this gives you and your friends a chance to have different items in your wardrobes without wasting resources or even money.
Buying second hand is also a viable option- thrift stores may score you some great finds.
Gradually switch to more sustainable clothing– a cotton dress can be one of your first steps. They are light, breezy and perfect for a day out. The cotton is sourced from organic farms and made without any chemical processes.
You could also try using capsule wardrobes- the concept behind them is to have a few basic staple pieces of sustainable clothing that can be paired in various ways and last a long time.
Take the first step today, find beautiful cotton dresses at Wudbox!