Fast fashion can be described as “fast” in several ways: how quickly fashion trends change, how quickly products are produced, how quickly customers decide to buy something, how quickly packages are delivered and how quickly clothes are worn before they are thrown out. the wardrobe.
Conversations about fashion, sustainability and environmental awareness now often include the term “fast fashion”. The phrase refers to cheaply produced and priced items that replicate the latest catwalk styles. These pieces are quickly circulated through stores to capitalize on current trends.
Why is it an issue?
According to Business Insider, 10% of the world’s carbon emissions come from the fashion industry, which is comparable to the European Union. Due to the energy used in the production, manufacture and transportation of the millions of items purchased each year, the global fashion business produces a lot of greenhouse gas emissions.
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The majority of our clothing is made of synthetic fibers (polyester, acrylic, nylon, etc.), which require more energy to produce than natural fibers.
Furthermore, untreated hazardous waste water from textile manufacturers is typically released into rivers in the majority of countries where clothing is manufactured. Wastewater can contain a number of hazardous substances, including lead, mercury and arsenic. Millions of people living near those river banks are negatively affected, as well as aquatic life. In addition, the contamination enters the ocean before eventually spreading worldwide. 500,000 tons of microfibers, which is about 50 billion plastic bottles, are released into the ocean every year just from washing clothes.
Lucy Siegle, a British environmental journalist, made the following observation: “Fast fashion is not free. Someone, somewhere pays the price.” The harmful effects of fast fashion extend beyond the environment. In reality, the industry contributes to societal problems, especially in emerging markets. According to the organization Remake, young women between the ages of 18 and 24 produce 80% of the clothes. A 2018 US Department of Labor study discovered that forced and child labor was used in the fashion industry in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam and other nations. As a result of high production, sales and profits priority over human welfare.
What can you do?
There are several ways we can be thoughtful citizens and shop sustainably. First, when it comes to shopping for clothes, wearing an item as often and as long as you can is the biggest, most sustainable thing you can do. Even if they are made from all-natural fibers or from a “sustainable brand”, replacing your clothes or constantly getting new styles is a bad habit.
Next, think about where your garments are made and the distance they had to travel. A sustainable practice is to shop local to reduce shipping emissions. However, if you buy online, be sure to group your purchases and choose the slowest delivery option. Since all online purchases require a delivery vehicle, it is best to order several items at once. Retailers can often load all the products into a single box (or at least get everything into the same truck), which allows you to do all your shopping in a single “trip”, but buying one or two items at a time loses that efficiency because each individual order adds an additional delivery trip.
Finally, an easy way to avoid the problems of fast fashion is to buy used items from thrift stores and charity shops. This gives clothes a “new life”, and the experience can be fun when you look at different and previous fashion trends. If you are not able to visit the real stores, many offer goods on their website for quick online purchase. Poshmark and thredUP are both great places to buy and sell used clothes.
Finally, fast fashion is a massive global issue. However, if we each make small changes in our shopping habits, we can collectively reduce the likelihood of major future implications.
Banks Vadeboncoeur is a sophomore at Ponte Vedra High School. She loves to write and hopes to have a career in journalism.
This guest column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Times-Union. We welcome a diversity of opinions.