Most people have no idea how much of an impact fast fashion has on the environment. Many people buy cheap clothes made with cheap labor, only to throw them away after a few months and buy new ones.
And so the cycle continues.
What is this doing to our planet? What about the people who make these cheap clothes? And of course, there’s also the fact that countless animals are being slaughtered or mistreated so we can have leather, wool, fur, and other fashion-related products.
What can you do to change this?
Well, the first step is to become aware of the problem we’re all facing, and in this article, we’re going to do our best to shed some light on the harmful aspects of fast fashion that you might not be aware of.
How Does Fast Fashion Impact the Environment?
Of all the various industries in the world, fashion causes among the most levels of pollution. Aside from merely encouraging people to throw away their garments after a few uses, some brands even purposefully destroy their unsold merchandise so that it can’t be sold at a discount.
Even cotton causes a serious impact on the environment since the process of creating this textile requires considerable amounts of water and creates serious pollution.
According to a recent study, the fashion industry already produces billions of tons of carbon emissions per year.
Also, the global fashion industry consumes billions of cubic meters of water each year to create textiles like cotton.
While this might sound alarming, the truth of the matter is that it’s only going to get worse – unless we do something about it.
The fashion industry is projected to experience massive growth over the next few years. In 2030, the fashion industry might be responsible for the most carbon emissions of any industry in the world. It might also be a substantial contributing factor to the water shortages our planet is sure to face in the coming years.
What About the Fashion Industry’s Impact on Workers?
The fashion industry is also infamous for unethical labor practices.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about the working conditions in so-called “sweatshops,” and this issue is still just as worrying in 2019.
Aside from poor working conditions, many workers that make our clothes are paid almost unbelievably low wages.
Like fashion’s impact on the planet, this problem is only going to become worse as time goes on. As the cost of living increases with rising costs of inflation, many workers will begin to feel the impacts seriously.
How Does the Fashion Industry Impact Animals?
Animals are a huge part of the planet, and the fashion industry impacts these innocent creatures, as well.
Many animals are kept in deplorable conditions and abused by farmers that harvest their coats or furs for the fashion industry.
Leather has serious animal rights implications because animals must be slaughtered to provide their skins. In some cases, cows are only skinned after they have died of natural causes.
In other cases, vast herds of cattle are systematically wiped out to provide us with leather.
Harvesting fur is an even crueler practice, and the abuse that these animals must face before they die is horrendous.
Also, the fashion industry is responsible for clear-cutting vast areas of forest and jungle so that farms can be established to grow cotton and other materials.
When animals lose their habitat, they often face extinction.
What Are Some of the Biggest Fashion Brands Doing to Help?
Many of the biggest brands are stepping up and doing their part to improve their impact on the planet.
Nike is recycling a whopping 99% of its recoverable dye water. Zara is completely transforming itself to focus only on using sustainable fabrics by 2025. Adidas has eliminated the need for water in their dying process, while H&M is planning to use only sustainable cotton in the coming years.
Those are just a few of the most notable success stories, but in general, the fashion industry is becoming much more conscious of its impact. During Copenhagen Fashion Week, single-use plastics were banned entirely. If you take a look at the direction that big brands are heading, it’s clear that sustainability is becoming trendy.
What Are Nations Doing to Help?
Brands alone can’t make the change, and in many cases, we need to rely on the governments of various countries to step in and do their part.
So what are some of the most significant changes happening around the globe?
France plans to ban stores from throwing away unused clothes completely. Sweden has established a Textile Initiative solely dedicated to climate action. Also, the nations of Malta and Switzerland are making considerable commitments to combat the effects of fast fashion.
What Can YOU Do To Help?
It’s all very well and good to rely on brands and governments to make changes in the way we consume fashion, but at the end of the day, the real power is in the hands of the consumer.
With every dollar you spend, you’re exercising real power. You get to decide what you think is appropriate for our planet, our workers, and our animals.
You can start by merely consuming less clothing. We understand that it’s tempting to buy lots of cheap stuff. It’s on sale. So why not?
Why not take a different approach? Why not fill your wardrobe with things that you really, absolutely love?
You can also focus on buying clothes that last.
There’s nothing wrong with owning the same pair of jeans for thirty years. If you buy raw denim, you can see your jeans transform over the years and naturally fade gracefully.
Your clothes can tell a story when they survive for decades. Instead of buying clothes that already have rips and fades, you can let this happen naturally over time. And trust us, it looks better that way in the end.
Vintage clothing is always in. So why not check out your local thrift shop? You’d be surprised at what you can find in there, and you’ll be making a positive impact on the environment.
Why not buy clothes only from brands that have fair labor practices?
By doing all of these things, you’re sending a message to the fashion industry that these things are important to you.
Trust us. They will listen. You are the fashion industry’s customers after all, and without you, they’d be nothing.