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Is Fashion Killing The Planet and Its People?

Most of us can never seem to find anything to wear while looking at our overflowing closets. There’re shoes, pants, belts, hats and shirts scattered everywhere, from top to bottom. With every upcoming event comes another day spent shopping, searching for the perfect outfit, an outfit that hasn’t been repeated or seen by the eyes of our internet friends.

Every week, big chain corporations like Forever 21, Zara and H&M are releasing new clothing, new sales, and are finding new ways to convince the public that the clothes they purchased last week are not a trend, and that they need to buy new ones to keep up.

The way these corporations are producing and distributing clothes across the globe is called “Fast Fashion.” It emphasizes how fashion industries make trends quick and at extremely low prices for consumers.

What are the environmental and social impacts?

With over 1 billion garments being produced annually, the fast fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter, following the oil industry. From landfills to greenhouse gas emissions, from chemical usage to wastewater, fast fashion is deceitfully intoxicating the planet.

Here are some ways that fast fashion is impacting our environment:

  1. The fast fashion industry produces 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year. This is equivalent to more emissions than air travel and international shipping.
  2. Fast fashion is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater.
  3. “Making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles.”
  4. 60% of clothing produced in one year is tossed away into landfills.
  5. One t-shirt takes 2,700 liters of water to make. That is 1,350 days of drinking water for one person.

Here are some ways that fast fashion is impacting our society:

  1. Many children are forced into child labor in countries with fast fashion factories, such as Argentina, Bangladesh and China.
  2. Thirty percent of the substances used in clothing production have been found to pose a serious threat to human health.
  3. Over 50 percent of garment workers are paid way below minimum wage, leaving them without enough money to live a decent life.
  4. There are over 75 million garment workers in the world today who do not have access to the same rights as labor workers in the U.S.
  5. A majority of garment workers are forced to work in extreme and hazardous conditions.

The Rana Plaza Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh killed over 1,100 people in 2013. Workers said that they told factory bosses that the building was unstable the day before, but were still forced to go to work the next day.

How can you help?

  1. Stop purchasing from fast fashion companies.
  2. Start thrifting your clothes.
    • This can reduce the amount of clothing going into landfills.
  3. Shop ethical and sustainable brands
  4. Learn more about the fast fashion industry.
    • The film The True Cost, on Netflix, highlights all the impacts of fast fashion. https://truecostmovie.com/
    • YouTube has a variety of videos and TEDx Talks discussing fast fashion, its impacts, and how to help.

The IDEAS Hive – August 2019

The IDEAS Hive is a monthly community think/do meeting focused on sustainability experts and environmental solutions. On August 7th 2019, Melissa Freezor, an upcycled fashion designer, spoke on reusing textiles and her business Raw Materials.

Sources

1.https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods
2. https://7billionfor7seas.com/fast-fashion-facts/
https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/01/numbers-economic-social-and-environmental-impacts-fast-fashion
3.https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/style-thats-sustainable-a-new-fast-fashion-formula
4.https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Full-Report.pdf
5.https://ecowarriorprincess.net/2018/10/facts-statistics-about-fast-fashion-inspire-ethical-fashion-advocate/
6. https://spoiled-nation.com/2018/11/27/fast-fashion-is-social-media-aiding-the-industry/
7.https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/lifestyle/fashion-and-beauty/2018-05-12-meet-fashions-true-victims/
8.https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/23/world/asia/report-on-bangladesh-building-collapse-finds-widespread-blame.html