Fast Fashion– It’s Time To Slow Down!
It has been some time coming, but finally the world’s attention is turning to one of the biggest eco-problems of our time- the fashion industry.
At this year’s Met Gala, a yearly themed fashion parade of the rich and famous, Emma Watson stood out wearing a sustainable outfit made in collaboration with Calvin Klein and Eco Age. The theme was “Manus x Machina“, which called on attendees to combine both fashion and technology. Emma wore a five-piece ensemble fashioned of plastic bottles re-purposed into yarn. It was the perfect display of fun and functionality.
Now you may think what’s all the fuss about, but not so long ago, well actually a little more than a century ago, fashion wasn’t as diverse and accessible as it is today. It was practical. Oddly enough, the capsule wardrobe was not the brainchild of today’s hip designers, but put together by necessity when clothes were limited to staple, quality garments. Anything new would have been made by a local tailor, using materials and fabrics that the buyer could afford.
Fast forward to the modern world where “Fast Fashion” is the norm. Cheap, disposable garments that reflect the pace, incomes and needs of the millennial person. A world where as a celebrity it is a scandal to wear the same things twice. A culture in which clothes reflect the personality and desires of the wearer, catering to every whim of expression or dress code. Emma Watson’s eco-choice seems almost revolutionary. And it is…
Unfortunately, we are light years away from the fashion economy of the old. The reason we can buy such cheap, fashionable clothes nowadays is due to the long supply chain circumventing the globe, often engaging in production practices that affect both people and the environment. The price of fashion freedom is truly nauseating. Just look at the following facts:
“The fashion industry is the second biggest pollutant of the earth, following oil.”
“Almost 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles. Dyeing, rinsing, and treatment of textiles all use large amounts of fresh water. Some 72 toxic chemicals reach our water supply from textile dyeing.”
“Cotton production accounts for 2.6% of annual global water usage. A single T-shirt made from conventional cotton requires 2700 liters of water, and 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to produce.”
“Nylon manufacture creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”
“The working conditions in the textile and clothing industry are of sub-standard with low wages, long hours and poor health & safety”
This is just scratching the surface of a plethora of information on the subject. So, what can we do to make a change?
The first step to all change is awareness. The lifestyles of the majority are as such that it is difficult to make informed purchases, especially when budgets are already squeezed, limiting the choice to buy more expensive ethical goods. Just being mindful of the facts will help to eliminate potential unnecessary purchases and promote informed choices, if the opportunity to do so presents itself. Less waste is a good mindset to start with.
What innovations are around to help us follow the ethical path?
MARKETPLACE APPS: Secondhand garments can be just as good as new, sometimes relatively unworn. This is especially the case with children’s clothes and accessories. Kids rarely get to wear out anything, as they outgrow them first. Then more things have to be bought. When it comes to kids stuff, Kidster app is a great place to start. You can free up space in your home, earn money from selling the mildly used stuff to buying other mildly used stuff, often at cheaper prices! You also get the satisfaction of knowing that you are maximising the life of barely used items.
BUYING FROM SOURCE: When you buy from the makers themselves, you help to support a smaller economy. Not only can you get something unique, but it is more likely that the environmental impact will be significantly lower than purchasing from a big brand.
FASHION REVOLUTION: On 24 April 2013, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fashion Revolution is demanding change and believes the best way to do this is through transparency. Supporters are asked to question brands who made their clothes?
ECO AGE: Eco-Age is a brand consultancy that helps businesses grow by creating, implementing and communicating bespoke sustainability solutions. The founder is none other than Livia Firth, wife of actor Colin Firth, a staunch eco-campaigner making waves in the fashion industry. It is Eco-Age that collaborated with the Met Gala in their now famous, Green Carpet Challenge GCC.
There is a long road ahead to sustainability. It is not an impossible destination to reach, if we collectively change our destructive habits and force the fashion industry to take innovative steps to protect the environment and those working in it.
What can I do to help?
Follow and support eco-influencers on social media
Champion innovative solutions for our toxic world environment
Reduce waste and make informed purchases
Be creative with items you already have
Stay mindful of sustainability in all areas of life
We have one world. Let us not continue destroying it until nothing is left.