Fast fasion is the 2nd worse polluter in the planet – second only to the oil industry!
The industry is responsible for high carbon emissions, wastewater production and large amounts of landfill waste. While it employs thousands of overworked and underpaid employees, many of them victims of mental, physical and sexual abuse.
Here is a quick fact list about the fast fashion industry:
* The fast fashion industry produces 1 billion garments annually
* It emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year
* It is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater
* The fast fashion industry uses more than 80 billion cubic metres of freshwater
* Production of textiles uses about 2500 different chemicals
* Cotton is one of the most resource-intensive crops out there
* 63% of clothes are made from petrochemicals
* The fast fashion industry produces 97% of our clothes overseas
* 85% of the 40 million women working in the fast fashion industry suffer mental, physical and sexual abuse on the workplce, with long hours and low pay.
* The fast fashion industry also employs children.
* Working conditions are extremely dangerous. In 2013 the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh killed more than 1100 workers.
* The fashion industry produces around 100 million tons of waste with 85% of our clothes ending up in a landfill.
* Fast fashion is a huge contributor to plastic pollution.
* Around 1 million tons of microfibres end up in the ocean every year.
* Only 1% of textile waste is truly recycled. With current technologies, it would take 12 years to recycle what the fast fashion industry creates in just 48 hours.
Does the above justify that cute €9.99 dress?
If you don’t want to be part of this damaging industry, there is only one choice you need to make – choose Sustainable fashion. As with any sustainability issue, WE are part of the problem so it is up to US to be part of the solution.
Sustainable fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. While fast fashion runs on a series of unethical operations such as human rights violation, unfair wages, poor working conditions – and creates a myriad of environmental disasters, Sustainable fashion provides a positive shift towards fair trade, employee welfare, and environmentally safe measures.
Here is what you can do:
* Buy less new clothes
The biggest issue with fast fashion is the speed and scale at which its production operates. The current unsustainable trend of buy – consume – dispose can be limited if we limit the purchasing in the first place.
* Choose to buy pre-loved clothes
Re-using is definitely a more sustainable option when it comes to fashion. Each time you buy a re-used second-hand item of clothing you are saving it from landfill and you are saving an entire process of generating a new item. Because every new item that sells automatically sends a message to the producer to create a new one. Let’s dump the perception that second-hand clothes is not on. Buying used clothes can be seen as an act of revolution and it can be a form of self-expression for you. You can find many thrift and vintage shops nowadays.
* Swap clothes
We need to switch our current throw away culture into a sustainable model where items are re-used, recycled and repurposed. Swapping clothes is a great way to get rid of what you don’t want and exchange it for another piece of clothing that you actually dig. Clothes swapping events are become a cool trend.
An old torn and damaged pair of jeans can be transformed into a stylish one-of-a-kind waist bag! Find a seamstress or a capable friend and get creative and invtentive! Don’t throw away something just because it is damaged. Think of ways it can be re-used!
* Buy clothes for quality, function, versatility and personal style
Don’t let mass advertisement determine what you buy. Determine your own personal style and buy clothes based on what you actually like to wear and feel confident in. If you have to buy a new item, make sure it is of good quality and can be used with different styles and for different purposes. Let’s fall in love with the clothes we buy and make sure they stay with us for years and years.
* Support circular economy
Many large fast fashion brands have started recycling campaigns. Most of these brands will ask you to return your old textiles and in exchange they offer discounts on new in-store items. While this may sound like a great idea, they are not really addressing the main problems. That is not how circular economy works. Don’t be fooled! The objective of these campaigns is to ensure that production and consumption levels remains the same. What they do with items you return probably is dump them in a landfill or sell them to a developing country. A true circular fashion model would be for the producer to make new clothes out of these recycled items. Today, this technology does not really exist.
* Business vs charity
Nobody wants ultra-cheap poorly made clothing. We are led to believe that these unwanted clothes will go to people in need. In most cases this is a myth. These unwanted clothes are managed by a business not a charity. Donating your old clothes is a good thing but be extremely careful whom you give them to, and also do not use this as an excuse to continue the buying/dumping cycle.
* Choose sustainable fabrics
The most sustainable cotton is the post-consumer cotton waste that is recycled. Recycled cotton has the potential to reduce water and energy consumption. Another great fabric is hemp, it grows all around the world and requires very little water, no pesticides and naturally fertilises the soil it grows in. It is a great textile as it keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. Linen is similar to hemp plus it fully biodegradable when untreated. Keep an eye on these futuristic fabrics: Tencel, Pinatex, Econyl and Qmonos.
* Be aware of green-washing labels
Not all that is green is eco-friendly. Several fast fashion brands are seeing the threat of sustainable fashion and are cheating by trying to mimick their brands in appearing eco-friendly. Green-washing is a way to make something look ‘green’ while in reality it is not. Learn to understand the labels and what is genuine and what is not.
* Support sustainable clothing brands
We need to be careful not to use sustainability as an excuse to buy more clothes, however, if you need to buy new clothes make sure you do so from a brand that follows sustainability models, both social and environmental.
In an effort to raise awareness about Sustainable fashion in Malta, the Eco Market will be hosting a themed virtual event on Zoom on 27 and 28 June.