Fast fashion and its impact on the planet

By Claudia Cermerón


We all know about the term “fast-fashion” which has appeared in numerous newspapers recently.

More than 60% of the fabric used to make the clothing you are currently wearing are now synthetics, and derived from fossil fuels, meaning that if you toss your clothing into a landfill it will not decay. Nor will the microfibres that end up in the sea ( now including the highest glacier peaks ).

Dana Thomas, a well known style writer, has connected how our “fast-fashion” wardrobes are connected to climate change patterns. Her argument is broken up into three sections.

The first one is focused on the main differences between fas-fashion and regular fashion, and how they have come to be this phenomenon, which is in fact voracious and uncontainable. She also mentions alternatives for fast-fashion, that would help conserve our environment as a whole. These alternatives include: using locally grown materials, domestically manufactured...This study is backed up by the numerous interviews and meeting she has with experts on this topic, and people who are also trying to reform the system entirely, from the material that are used to the production of this material...

It has to be pointed out, that this industry has been one of the darkest corners in the world economy. They have always been crucial for the development of our globalised capitalist system, but we must not forget, that when it initially started, it already used chemicals that contaminated the environment, as well as not being sustainable in the social aspect by producing products through slavery. This issue continues to happen, as it has been discovered that big companies such as Zara use immigrant workers from Vietnam, Bangladesh, The Philippines...

Fast-fashion has also been the cause of some big disasters, such as the tragedy of the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. The explosion killed around 1000 workers, and injured around another 3000. The explosion did not stop there, more than 30% of the land was destroyed due to the explosion.

However, it is in contextualising this single industry from a broader climate perspective. Livestock is responsible for around 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, and it is one of the industries that consumes at least 20% of the current water supply we have.

Nowadays, many solutions have started to arise. A lot of faith is placed here in the idea of “a circular — or closed-loop — system, in which products are continually recycled, reborn, reused. Nothing, ideally, should go in the trash.” But the practical considerations — cost, efficiency, resource limitations — are often left unaddressed, which is an issue.

We have to change this industries functioning before it is too late. Do it for the planet, do it because you care.

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