Clothing is an essential part of your day, even if you don’t prioritize fashion. What you wear can express your personality and how you feel. But you should ask yourself, who makes the clothing I wear every day and in what conditions do they work?
The issue with current fashion is a pressure to remain trendy with wardrobe updates, but this comes with costs personally and globally in an international crisis deemed fast fashion. Consider adopting an environmentally and socially ethical clothing lifestyle by reading these tips.
What is fast fashion?
Any product produced has a chain of reactions, whether positive or negative. You can empirically measure the impact of producing a single garment on the environment and the people who produce it. Fast fashion is, “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers”, according to merriam-webster.
Fast fashion production is rapid, even though it is a relatively new phenomenon, with a whopping 400% increase in twenty years, and 80 billion garments produced a year. So, whether you realize it or not, you’re likely a part of the fast fashion system. Here are some fast facts on the fashion industry to consider.
- Fashion production makes up around 10% of total global carbon emissions.
- People wear a garment an average of ten times before tossing it.
- Textile dyeing is the second-largest polluter of water since the water leftover from the dyeing process is often dumped into ditches, streams, or rivers.
- An estimated 35% of all microplastics—tiny pieces of non-biodegradable plastic—in the ocean come from the laundering of synthetic textiles like polyester.
- Young women between the ages of 18 and 24 make 80% of all apparel.
Hypothetically, if fast fashion incorporated recycled clothing into production, the problem would shrink. However, fast fashion doesn’t use recycled clothing nearly enough.
Why is fast fashion still around?
There are four seasons in a year, but in fashion, there is a saying that there are fifty-two micro seasons that change every week.
With prices dropping in clothing, more demand and more bulk production are occurring. It can feel like you’re getting a deal, but the apparel is often low-quality, so you’ll likely need to buy pieces more often to keep up with trends. People lack the motivation to take care of their clothing, knowing they can and will buy more soon. It can be enticing to see lower prices, but the ethical alternatives can be just as beautiful, if not more.
How can I reduce my use of fast fashion products?
Why not have clothing as unique as you in your wardrobe? Larger retailers are more likely to have fast fashion apparel, but local boutiques are far less likely to carry mass-produced clothing. This way, you can support your local small businesses and designers dedicated to ethically sourced clothing.
Look for organic
Materials like 100% cotton, hemp, linen, and bamboo are best to wear for their longevity in your closet and biodegradability once worn down.
Upcycle your clothing
Instead of tossing a piece of clothing, consider upcycling it into a new garment! You don’t need to be an expert seamstress or tailor, just head to Pinterest or your favorite DIY inspiration site for ideas to upcycle common apparel like denim jeans and t-shirts.
Donate directly to a local shelter or a friend
If you cannot use your clothing anymore or don’t wear it enough, donate directly to a local shelter, family member, or friend that will love it. Resist the urge to toss it in the trash and give it back to those who need it and will use it more.
Shop these larger ethical retailers
Shopping online is a convenient way to browse and purchase clothing, so try sites like these that carry ethical and sustainable clothing.