Buy more, use “less.” It is the accelerated consumption formula that is fashionable among one of the most polluting industries on the planet.
The fashion industry is one of the industries with the greatest reach at the international level, especially after the consolidation of the economic opening in the first few years of the 21st century.
This process made it possible to import goods and services, mainly from the East to the West.
Currently, clothing and textiles represent 5% of world trade in manufacturing products, being the fourth most representative industry. In 2018, it reached about 655 billion dollars in exports.
This process of expansion of the industry and its large commercialized volumes, combined with the need of the industry to innovate and present the latest fashion trends, resulted in the consolidation of the “fast fashion” concept.
The Idea of Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is understood as the phenomenon by which collections of clothing are introduced that follow the latest fashion trends and have been designed and manufactured in an accelerated way and at a low cost.
Thus, the industry offers the consumer the possibility of accessing innovative garments at affordable prices and continuously, with about 50 collections per year.
With the proliferation of pop culture and social networks, a cult of consumerism has been created.
Nobody wants to be seen or photographed with the same garments, and because this quantity of garments is made very cheap and cost very little, it is more convenient for consumers to have their wardrobe.
Through behavioral and market studies, advertising campaigns and production, distribution and marketing strategies, most businesses have achieved the goal of conquering the public and turning fashion into a consumer good for the masses.
The expansion of fast fashion towards the conquest of the world is vertiginous. It is no longer about the supply of garments, but of a form of consumption that is increasingly accentuated.
The garments and trends change at the same speed with which the tastes of consumers change.
Facts about Fast Fashion
This consumer trend has meant that the average use of a new garment is only seven times before being discarded and that, in the last 20 years, there has been a 400% increase in the consumption of clothing on the planet.
Also, there are the ecological impacts typical of the industry, such as the high consumption of natural resources and chemical inputs and the generation of dumping and emissions.
The fashion industry is among the most polluting in the world and has become incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment.
According to the World Resources Institute, producing a cotton shirt consumes 2700 liters of water and the textile industry generates 20% of industrial water pollution.
Likewise, it is estimated that in the production of a shirt, between 2.1 and 5.5 Kg of CO2 is emitted, being the garments made of polyester the ones that generate the greatest emissions – about 706 billion Kg of CO2 in 2018.
In the Pulse of the Fashion Industry report of the Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group, it is estimated that, according to current consumption trends and growth prospects, water consumption, CO2 emissions, and waste generation will increase between 50 and 63% by 2030.
Social and labor concerns also arise, such as labor abuse. The harms of fast fashion reveal that in the world, there are about 40 million textile workers, of which 85% are women, many of them minors, earning two dollars a day and under inhuman working conditions.
Today, we are manufacturing more clothes, consuming more, using more resources and paying less than at any other time.
How to avoid the impacts of fast fashion
When buying used clothes, add more years of life to the clothes, so there will be no waste. The clothes of the outlets can be garments that cannot be paid when they leave as a new season.
In some cases, they may have minimal damage. But perhaps the main advantage is that you have access to quality clothing that can last longer.
To be able to find second-hand clothes or outlets, there are websites or even groups in social networks that specialize in offering these garments. Give thrift shopping try.
Go against ideologies.
They have made us believe that the more varied our wardrobe is, the better.
Its purpose is to make us spend, from an outfit for each day of the week to special clothes to go to the gym.
Companies and brands play with the feeling of satisfaction that is created if a certain garment is bought, which in the end is usually not fulfilled once it is obtained, perhaps because a real need is not being filled.
It has been asked how monopolistic practices, labor exploitation and poor working conditions in clothing production disappear?
Do some quick research
It only takes a few minutes to find out which brands have factories in developing countries – i.e. where labor is very cheap.
Once you have them identified, you can choose to stop buying from these companies.
Maybe the sales of the brand will not plummet by a single person, but if you put your grain of sand together with more people, you can make a difference together.
Communication is key. Knowledge is power.
So be sure to discuss this matter with your friends and family too.
The more we talk about this, the more we spread the knowledge and the weaker this industry becomes.
You can also be sure that you do not support these production practices.
Some people do not like the idea of wearing second-hand clothes. In this scenario, carefully choose the companies you shop from. There are many small companies that use sustainable materials and have green ideologies.
The composition of your clothes can affect your pocket and the environment even if you don’t believe it.
When it comes to synthetic materials, these are not friendly to the environment. Every time they are washed they wear out and the waste ends up in the oceans.
Natural materials are friendly to the body and the environment, as long as they are manufactured sustainably – i.e. they are not overexploiting the environment to obtain them.
You must follow the washing instructions on the labels of your clothes.
While making them last longer, spend less money replacing them. With the extra money that can be saved by buying clothes more intelligently, you can be contributed to a savings fund, to pay debts or simply to fulfill your purposes and goals.
A Few Final Thoughts
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All the best,