Fast Fashion… What does it actually mean for our planet? By Noor Tansvi
I’m sure we’ve all heard of the term ‘fast fashion’ now, it’s become part of our vocabulary but do we actually know what it means and how we can avoid it? Fast fashion is basically a phrase used to describe clothing designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet new trends. The collections are often based on designs presented at Fashion Week events. Fast fashion allows mainstream consumers to purchase trendy clothing at an affordable price. So… while this may sound all good current, the repercussions of this for the environment ain’t so nice, to say the least.
So, lets start with some facts and figures to put into perspective the sheer impact that fast fashion has on our planet:
· The fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined.
· Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams.
· 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. That’s enough to fill the Sydney harbor annually.
· While people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than in 2000, they only kept the clothes for half as long.
· The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second.
· Washing clothes, meanwhile, releases 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.
· Overall, microplastics are estimated to compose up to 31% of plastic pollution in the ocean.
· It takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans. That’s more than enough for one person to drink eight cups per day for 10 years.
· In Uzbekistan, for example, cotton farming used up so much water from the Aral Sea that it dried up after about 50 years.
· It takes about 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt. That’s enough water for one person to drink at least eight cups per day for three-and-a-half years.
Overwhelming right? We inarguably overlook the impact of the normalised fashion industry and it’s consequences for the environment which isn’t sustainable whatsoever.
Governments need to be more actively involved in the fashion industry’s damaging effects. UK ministers rejected a report by members of parliament to address the environmental effects of fast fashion.
The best advice on reducing fast fashion comes from Patsy Perry, senior lecturer in fashion marketing at the University of Manchester, who says, “Less is always more.”
The World Resources Institute suggests that companies need to design, test and invest in business models that reuse clothes and maximise their useful life. The UN has launched the Alliance for Sustainable Fashion to address the damages caused by fast fashion. It is seeking to ‘halt the environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion’.
Other retailers like Adidas are experimenting with personalised gear to cut down on returns, increase customer satisfaction and reduce inventory. Ralph Lauren has announced that it will use 100% sustainably-sourced key materials by 2025. Furthermore, the French president, Emmanuel Macron has made a pact with 150 brands o make the fashion industry more sustainable.
· Charity shops- Whether its donating unwanted clothes or purchasing clothes, charity shops are the way to go. Not only is recycling materials with minimal waste, all profits go to charitable causes… win win right?
· Avoid clothes shopping on a want basis and more on a needs basis- Trust me, I know easier said than done, however discipling oneself to shop sparingly will only help our beloved planet in the long run! Maybe think twice before ordering a 8th hoodie?
· Shop using websites/ at shops that use recycled materials and that are attempting to be as sustainably efficient as possible- Being selective and aware of where you’re shopping and it’s stance towards the environment is an extremely vital step in helping to preserve our natural resources.
· Alternative Apparel
· H&M Conscious
· Polo Ralph Lauren
· People Tree. People Tree
· Here today here tomorrow
· Study 34
· Nude Ethics
So I do that hope you feel more informed in regards to the impact of fast fashion on our environment, and are more confident with how to go about supporting alternative brands that are pioneering a new type of sustainable fashion!