Fast Fashion. It’s the world we live in nowadays and it’s harming our planeta, our people, and our pockets.
Be an outfit repeater
Fast fashion is an approach by the fashion industry to market new clothing at cheap prices through trends that expire quickly. With the average attention span of a human now being EIGHT seconds (less than even a goldfish), it’s not surprising that we need new things, and we need them fast. In our increasingly digitized world, trends come in and go out in a matter of weeks. It’s estimated that we no longer have four fashion seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall) but rather 52 fashion microseasons. But how does this affect us?
Fast fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world, second only to fossil fuel extraction. The negative environmental impact of the associated water pollution, toxic chemicals, and textile waste of fast fashion are nearly immeasurable. We all like some form of color in our clothing (I’m also looking at all you charcoal grey-lovers like me!). But dyed fabrics are the second largest polluter of water in the world, and the dying process uses 1.3 trillion gallons per year. Also, have you looked at your clothing tag lately? An increasing amount of clothing is made from polyester or a polyblend, aka plastic. This fabric is cheaper to produce than cotton, but when these clothes are washed, they shed microfibers that leach into our oceans. These are so small that they sift through any treatment plant, don’t biodegrade, and are often eaten by animals who may be eaten by humans (aka you’re eating plastic if you eat sea life).
Around the world, people are often underpaid and forced to work in unfair and dangerous labor practices to produce our clothes. One of the worst disasters in the garment industry is that of Rana Plaza, a garment factory in Bangladesh that collapsed in 2013 leading to the death of 1,135 people. The factory was plagued with disastrous working conditions and unsafe building upkeep, facts known but ignored by the ownership in an effort to produce profit over the good of people. The average garment worker in Bangladesh makes only $68 per month, whereas many of us may spend $68 on a jacket or one pair of jeans. The fast fashion industry doesn’t only affect people who work in it directly. It also hurts people who live near a water source polluted with toxic chemicals from dyeing or tanning leather. Increased rates of diseases, such as cancer, are on the rise in those communities. This industry preys on communities, such as the 2.5 million people in Kanpur, India along the Ganges river, who are already disproportionately vulnerable to poor health outcomes and exacerbates these issues by providing low-wage, high-risk jobs and decreasing environmental health for workers and their families.
Finally, OUR POCKETS
Whether you’re impacted or not by the thought of our planet suffering or other people suffering, most of us have at least one selfish bone in our body. We work hard to make that money, so why do we spend it so easily? It’s estimated that the average U.S. American family spends $1,700 dollars on clothing per year. This isn’t at all surprising with how often we buy new clothes including: a new outfit for a party, for a date, for a dinner out, for a sleepover, for a photo shoot, for a holiday, and even just when we’re bored and meandering aimlessly at the mall. We may wear these outfits only once not daring to wear it again in case someone might snap a picture and we’ll be the dreaded OUTFIT REPEATER. On average, items of clothing are worn by women only seven times before being tossed out. That’s a lot of hours of work going straight into the trash can (and landfills).
So all that to say, slow down. Be an outfit repeater. Now if being a total outfit repeater isn’t quite your thing, check out our next article on how to look fabulous while caring about the planet, the animals, and the people!
Watch The True Cost on Netflix to learn more!
Karla is SoCal born & bred, with family roots in Guerrero and Puebla, Mexico. She is currently pursuing an MPH in Global Health and considers herself a lifelong learner. Her favorite ways to invest her days are sunshine, nature, fun with her husband, picking up a good book & eating her way through all vegan foods.