Recycle, Reuse, Re-wear

Environmental and Ethical Problems of Fast Fashion

With the amount of cheap clothing available it’s easy to end up with a few items that caught your eye while passing through the clothing section. I have personally struggled with this while working in a clothing section. I would see a cute t-shirt end up taking it home after my shift. Within a few months my closet quickly filled up with items I was never going to wear. This is one the problems that fast fashion creates. Fast fashion is produced quickly, and cheaply to keep up with consumer trends. Ever wonder why there is always a clearance rack at every clothing store? It is because those clothes are already out of season, and the next shipment is already being set up. YouTuber Tiffanyferg introduced me to the world of sustainable fashion in her video Sustainability Issues We Don’t Talk About Enough. The video had completely changed my perspective, and I immediately stopped purchasing fast fashion. 

According to threadup, a second hand online clothing retailer, the second most polluting industry is fashion behind oil. 26 million pounds of clothing is put into landfills every year. On top of consider the amount resources that it takes to create the clothing. Tegan Taylor from ABC news Australia explains that for every 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of cotton lint about 2,120 liters or about 560 gallons of water is used. Additionally, when making fabrics, huge amounts of water are used when washing, bleaching, and dyeing. Common synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon are made from fossil fuels.  For further information on the resources used in the fashion industry click here.

The term “sweatshop” is commonly used when referring to forced labor places. The fast fashion industry relies on abusing human rights and taking advantage of the people in impoverished countries to make cheap clothing. In an article called Clothing and Human Rights by theconciouschallenge.org, a website promoting ethical and sustainable practices, the site sums up the disregard for ethical practices,

“Workers become disposable, just like the clothes they sell at their stores.”

You would think that higher end brands would be able to use their profits to source more ethically and sustainably, but these companies will often take advantage of the low cost of producing goods. The only redeeming quality of the higher prices is the brand value associated with them not as likely to end up in the trash. A amazing documentary that goes in depth to expose the working conditions of fast fashion industry is The True Cost.

So what can you do to make a difference? You know what they say, someone’s trash is another person’s treasure. The best way to reduce the amount of waste associated with fashion is to buy sustainably. Secondhand clothing is a fantastic option. Not only are you making less of a global footprint, but secondhand stores are very affordable. Keep in mind to only buy what you need. Overconsumption of secondhand clothing can still be wasteful. Now more than ever is a great time to go through your closet.

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