Fast fashion is a relatively new phenomenon that refers to the clothing which makes its way straight from the catwalk to the store. It’s a term used most times to describe the buying of cheap clothes which are then only worn a few number of times before being discarded. Fast fashion is basically as a result of consumer desire to constantly update their wardrobe and to keep up with the ever-changing trends.
With many leading designer brands such as Zara, H&M, and pioneer 21 shifting to this mass productivity culture, one may be tempted to think there’s actually nothing wrong with it. It’s a sure thing that everyone wants to be trendy and stylish and fast fashion just turned out to be the perfect way to keep up with all the latest trends without wasting too much money.
However, there are more problems than meet the eyes when it comes to fast fashion. The documentary “The True Cost” -directed by Andrew Morgan, focused on this and below are but a few of these problems:
1. Low-cost clothing is often produced unethically
In order to continuously reduce the cost of providing clothing to keep up with the demand for inexpensive clothing, retailers most times use unethical suppliers in developing countries to produce clothing quickly at the required costs. The documentary “The True Cost” revealed most cases of retailers selling clothes made in sweatshops and unhealthy buildings, where low-wage workers are treated very badly, and given very little in terms of fundamental human rights.
2. Disposing of clothes that have hardly been worn adds up to the increasing problem of landfill and textile waste.
Most apparels are made from non-biodegradable materials, for example, the synthetic clothes do not degrade, therefore remains in the ecosystem permanently. Also, chemicals and dyes finished on textiles that are disposed of landfill can be run-down by rainwater and into rivers. This is potentially damaging to fauna, flora, and humans. Natural fibers are also a threat when disposed of in landfill, because when they decompose, they produce methane a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes largely to global warming.
3. The continual production of new clothing has many environmental consequences, including the use of fossil fuels, pollution, and pesticides used in for the growth of cotton.
The documentary film “The True Cost” also reveals how the massive demand for cotton in India resulted in the planting of Genetically Modified Cotton, which requires the use of more pesticides and causes environmental pollution. Many fast fashion clothes are manufactured using petrochemicals in a process that is unusually energy intensive. This pollution can be harmful to the environment and to the health of humans in the vicinity causing congenital disabilities, cancer, mental and physical disabilities.
So what is the answer?
Consumers are the ones who can change this industry for the better, by taking responsibility when it comes to eco-fashion. A lot of consumers have already picked interest in eco-fashion, recycling, and sustainable style. But this issue needs and even more publicity while sustainable style needs to be promoted to the same degree as fast fashion.
There are a few ways this can be achieved:
• Shop only quality, well-made clothes that will last
• Repair and take good care of your clothes to prolong their life
• Where possible buy clothes that are made from natural organic fibers
• Purchase clothes in classic styles that will not quickly go out of fashion
• Develop a personal style that will be totally dependent on keeping up with the latest trend
• Recycle any unwanted clothes by selling them, swapping them, or donating them to charity
• Buying second hand, vintage, and recycled clothing