The textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, thanks to its nature corrupting chemical dyes, exploitative labour terms and the tonnes of waste it creates every year. The fashion industry is playing fast and loose with the environment and delivering to us cheap trendy fashion at a mind numbingly huge social cost.
Big Brand companies like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M have given birth to the word “fast fashion”. Fast Fashion gains its name from the speed at which it copies runway styles to cater its customers. These companies create new styles every week to create a sense of trending fashion and copy celebrities, thus the two fashion collections: Fall and Summer get accompanied by 58 micro collections in the span of the year. But this fast fashion although glamorous on the surface has a dark underbelly. Lets run a fact check to see if it is really important for us to wear new clothes on every occasion-
- These companies create low price goods by compensating with their quality. Cheap clothes result into short closet life, thus forcing the customer to buy more clothes and creating a purchase cycle.
- Companies hire labour from third world countries to reduce cost, these workers are poorly paid and often engage children in this exploitative manufacturing process.This saves the cost of installing expensive machines.
- Forever 21 has been accused of using lead well beyond the prescribed statutory level, lead has been proven extremely harmful for women, even making them infertile.
- These chemicals little by little also wash away with our clothes and ultimately mix with river waters, raising the chemical percentage to dangerous levels.
Creating sweatshops in third world countries also ensure that first world countries do not face any of the problems they create. Washing away of lead also raises the PH level of the rivers, killing aquatic life. Not just aquatic life, the title industry also often transcends installment of safety equipment for its workers. Changing trends create a pressure on the environment since keeping up with the latest fashion involves discarding old clothes generating a lot of waste and because of the rising use of synthetic materials in clothing; we are generating waste that is not going to decompose in the decades to come.
So what can we do?
The number one solution is to stop purchasing so many clothes. Buy good quality, durable clothes. Next, buy second hand clothes. Bloggers often organize sales to sell their clothes. They usually do not wear these items more than once and we could contribute towards the nature by reusing these items. Thrift stores are a rage in the US. There is absolutely no shame in using these clothes, only we can change the social stigma attached to this by broadening our minds. Also, donate. Donate clothes that you don’t wear anymore, not only would you be helping someone else but eliminate waste.
Small contributions go a long way.