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THE FAILINGS OF FAST FASHION

 

 

 

It's no secret that fast fashion, and the industry at large, has immense social and environmental impacts which, in turn, intensifies many of the most fundamental issues of our time. Fast fashion is predicated on senseless overproduction, inhumane exploitation, and ceaseless overconsumption.

 

 

It's important to be cognisant of the environmental, social, and human costs of the industry. So here we outline just a few of the many, many impacts of fashion, on both our planet, and our people.


It's no secret that fast fashion, and the industry at large, has immense social and environmental impacts which, in turn, intensifies many of the most fundamental issues of our time. Fast fashion is predicated on senseless overproduction, inhumane exploitation, and ceaseless overconsumption.

 

It's important to be cognisant of the environmental, social, and human costs of the industry. So here we outline just a few of the many, many impacts of fashion, on both our planet, and our people.

 

PLANET

 

Water

The production of textiles is an incredibly water-intensive process. For example, the production process for the crops required to make one cotton t-shirt gulps up between 2,700 and 3,250 litres of water. Given that the earth's freshwater sources are slowly but surely drying up, this level of water consumption is extremely concerning. Not only is the textile industry one of the top ranking industries for water consumption, it's also one of the top ranking industries with respect to water pollution.

 

 

Chemicals

There's a vast amount of chemicals involved in the textile production process. This issue spans from pesticides, insecticides and unnatural fertilisers used in growing the crops required to make textiles, as well as the chemicals used to dye, treat, and wash fabrics. Whats more, innumerable numbers of chemicals are required to maintain fabrics made from animal products, like wool and leather, in order to prevent them from decomposing. These procedures rarely ever take place in a closed-loop process, so the chemicals tend to run off into our waterways, causing immense pollution. It has been estimated that, every year, roughly 43 million tonnes of chemicals are used in the production of textiles. Very often, these chemicals contain carcinogens and other substances which cause ill health, and they cause irreversible environmental damage and contribute towards the climate crisis. All in all, textile production is a dangerously chemically-intensive procedure.

 

 

Microplastic Pollution

Synthetic fibres are a world favourite because of their often far too accessible price point. Synthetics are, quite literally, made of plastic. When these fabrics are washed, their fibres - bit by bit - break up and shed micro-plastics which are consequently swept away into our oceans and waterways. So these cheap fabrics are one of the biggest culprits for the environmental devastation and loss of life caused micro-plastic pollution.

 

 

Wastage

Fast fashion revolves around cutting corners, crazy consumptions, and the apparent need for newness. Because of the production of low-grade garments, there's no wonder that so much of it ends up in landfills. It's been estimated that, in the uk, more than 300,000 tonnes of used clothing gets sent to landfills each and every year. While some of these clothes may be made from biodegradable, natural fibres and fabrics, the vast majority tend to be synthetics, like polyester, which takes more than 200 years to biodegrade.

 

 

Water

The production of textiles is an incredibly water-intensive process. For example, the production process for the crops required to make one cotton t-shirt gulps up between 2,700 and 3,250 litres of water. Given that the earth's freshwater sources are slowly but surely drying up, this level of water consumption is extremely concerning. Not only is the textile industry one of the top ranking industries for water consumption, it's also one of the top ranking industries with respect to water pollution.

 

Chemicals

There's a vast amount of chemicals involved in the textile production process. This issue spans from pesticides, insecticides and unnatural fertilisers used in growing the crops required to make textiles, as well as the chemicals used to dye, treat, and wash fabrics. Whats more, innumerable numbers of chemicals are required to maintain fabrics made from animal products, like wool and leather, in order to prevent them from decomposing. These procedures rarely ever take place in a closed-loop process, so the chemicals tend to run off into our waterways, causing immense pollution. It has been estimated that, every year, roughly 43 million tonnes of chemicals are used in the production of textiles. Very often, these chemicals contain carcinogens and other substances which cause ill health, and they cause irreversible environmental damage and contribute towards the climate crisis. All in all, textile production is a dangerously chemically-intensive procedure.

 

Microplastic Pollution

Synthetic fibres are a world favourite because of their often far too accessible price point. Synthetics are, quite literally, made of plastic. When these fabrics are washed, their fibres - bit by bit - break up and shed micro-plastics which are consequently swept away into our oceans and waterways. So these cheap fabrics are one of the biggest culprits for the environmental devastation and loss of life caused micro-plastic pollution.

 

Wastage

Fast fashion revolves around cutting corners, crazy consumptions, and the apparent need for newness. Because of the production of low-grade garments, there's no wonder that so much of it ends up in landfills. It's been estimated that, in the uk, more than 300,000 tonnes of used clothing gets sent to landfills each and every year. While some of these clothes may be made from biodegradable, natural fibres and fabrics, the vast majority tend to be synthetics, like polyester, which takes more than 200 years to biodegrade.

 



PEOPLE

 

Workers

Fast fashion revolves around cutting corners, and cutting costs. The primary reason for the affordability of fast fashion is not because clothing is in fact cheap; rather it's because someone, somewhere, is paying the price. On average, the price for the labour involved in the production of our garments rarely exceeds 3% of the garments retail price. Cheap labour, plus low wages, equals maximum profits. Big brands typically profit off poverty as they leave their workers to live off unfair and unjust wages (because, for these employees, something is better than nothing). This issue is not exclusive to the global south, as some may assume. For example, it was recently been discovered that some garment workers in Leicester, UK, are paid as little as £3.50 per hour.

 

Women

When we say fast fashion is a feminist issue, we mean it. Approximately 80% of all garment workers are young women between the ages of 18 and 24. And, what's more, roughly 2% of all garment workers are afforded the luxury of being paid a liveable salary. The reality for the vast majority of garment workers is that they are paid unjust low-wages, working exhaustingly long hours, often in unsafe working conditions. Fast fashion has done an immense to women as it disproportionately disempowers them.

 

Harmful Practices

Just to name a few: forced labour, child labour, long working hours, low-wages, unsafe conditions. The sad reality is that sweatshops are not just a thing of the past. They're a thing of the present. Garment workers are, very commonly, forced to endure exploitative employment, in unsafe working conditions, with extended working hours. Working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, they are forced to live without adequate compensation. Seemingly, the rights of these workers are virtually non-existent in the eyes of their employers. What's more, many workers involved in the process of textile production are often exposed to dangerous chemicals and hazardous substances, which are harmful to one's health - sometimes even fatal. There's also a very long and very dark history involving slave labour in the production of conventional cotton - aka, the worlds dirtiest crop.

 

 

Workers

Fast fashion revolves around cutting corners, and cutting costs. The primary reason for the affordability of fast fashion is not because clothing is in fact cheap; rather it's because someone, somewhere, is paying the price. On average, the price for the labour involved in the production of our garments rarely exceeds 3% of the garments retail price. Cheap labour, plus low wages, equals maximum profits. Big brands typically profit off poverty as they leave their workers to live off unfair and unjust wages (because, for these employees, something is better than nothing). This issue is not exclusive to the global south, as some may assume. For example, it was recently been discovered that some garment workers in Leicester, UK, are paid as little as £3.50 per hour.

 

Women

When we say fast fashion is a feminist issue, we mean it. Approximately 80% of all garment workers are young women between the ages of 18 and 24. And, what's more, roughly 2% of all garment workers are afforded the luxury of being paid a liveable salary. The reality for the vast majority of garment workers is that they are paid unjust low-wages, working exhaustingly long hours, often in unsafe working conditions. Fast fashion has done an immense to women as it disproportionately disempowers them.

 

Harmful Practices

Just to name a few: forced labour, child labour, long working hours, low-wages, unsafe conditions. The sad reality is that sweatshops are not just a thing of the past. They're a thing of the present. Garment workers are, very commonly, forced to endure exploitative employment, in unsafe working conditions, with extended working hours. Working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, they are forced to live without adequate compensation. Seemingly, the rights of these workers are virtually non-existent in the eyes of their employers. What's more, many workers involved in the process of textile production are often exposed to dangerous chemicals and hazardous substances, which are harmful to one's health - sometimes even fatal. There's also a very long and very dark history involving slave labour in the production of conventional cotton - aka, the worlds dirtiest crop.

 




In more ways than one, the fashion industry has failed us. But hope isn't lost.

Let's slow fashion down.

 

In more ways than one, the fashion industry has failed us. But hope isn't lost.

Let's slow fashion down.