It’s time to say goodbye to fast fashion

Take-make-dispose model is not sustainable

Consider the cost of the environment next time you shop at stores like Forever 21.

The fashion industry must do their part and reign in their unsustainable ways. Since the early 2000s, fast fashion has taken over the clothing industry by making clothes a low cost option for the consumer but a high cost option for the environment.

The majority of people when thinking of the phrase “low price,” will be met with positive feelings. Everybody likes saving money right? But in the clothing industry, low prices mean cheap labor, environmental degradation, and low quality.

Think of it this way, how long do items from Forever 21 last? Because there’s just, “nothing left to it anymore?”

There’s a misconception that, to buy clothes they must be cheap. After all, a person can only afford so much.

They may hold up for one season or two, if you’re lucky.

I remember when I used to shop at stores like this fervently in hopes to find something beautiful, something that would define my wardrobe for the season.

What I was left with one wash later, was a shrunken piece of clothing already starting to peel and simultaneously turning into an off-shade color due to discoloration from the wash.

So what’s the environmental impact of fast fashion?

Quantis, a group of scientists, sustainability leaders, strategists and innovators released a study in 2018 that found, “an estimated 8% of the world’s greenhouse gasses are caused by the apparel and footwear industry.”

To break the 8% statistic down even further, 8% of the worlds greenhouse gasses equates to 4 metric gigatons of CO2, which nearly measures up to the same total as the “climate impact of the European Union.”

And if you think that’s baffling…

If regulations, policies and sales stay the same, “there is a projected increase of 49% by 2030, meaning the apparel industry alone will emit 4.9
metric gigatons of CO2, nearly equal to today’s total annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”

These numbers clearly show that fast fashion has an alarmingly negative impact on the environment.

In fact, the process of dying textiles continues to degrade the water quality of two of China’s primary rivers and according to the website of The United Nations Environment Programs, “fast fashion produces 20% of global wastewater.”

And if you thought plastic water bottles were the sole culprit of killing the ocean there’s more troubling news…

A study done by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation titled ‘A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future’ found that the “fast fashion industry’s clothes release half a million tons of micro-fibers into the ocean every year, equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles.”

If you’re not familiar with microfibers they’re small synthetic fibers that are used to make clothing items, primarily polyester.

It’s been reported by the University of California Santa Barbara that, “Within the food chain, these particles have been found to cause physical and chemical impacts, resulting in starvation and reproductive consequences in species. Micro-plastics and microfibers have also been found in marine species directly consumed by humans, the effects of which are unknown.”

So far the take and make parts of the method has been examined but, what about dispose?

The MacArthur Foundation found that “the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles are dumped into the ocean every second.”

All of these statistics may yell gloom and doom but, there are ways you can help distance yourself from fast fashion.

Notable things you can do that make a difference are to thrift shop, paying attention to how many clothes you throw away every season, buying clothes from fair trade stores, and keeping track of how many times you wear a clothing item, or just cutting down your spending habits.

When you buy a $15 shirt and wear it three times then throw it out, the price per wear of that item is $5. But, what if you buy a $30 shirt and end up wearing it ten times? The price per wear of that item is $3.

Next time you walk into Forever 21 or any other stores that’s considered ‘fast fashion,’ think of the cost to the environment and in the long scheme of things, your wallet.

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