Once upto a time fashion collections used to be just 2 main seasons Spring and the Autumn but with so much now online it feels like there are special offers and discounts all year round. What used to take months to create are now taking days in some instances.  Fast fashion means it meant to be thrown away will minimal use, so like a new dress or garment every week. Aware of this some of the top retail brands are now trying to address this by providing limited selections to avoid being labelled as “greenwashing”  You can tell if an item of clothing is fast fashion if its very low on price, often made from syntenic materials and from countries with high poverty rates.

Consumer demand for sustainability is at an all-time high and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. A recent survey of American consumers by Boston Consulting Group found that 75 percent view sustainability as “important” or “very important” with more than one-third reporting they have at some point switched from their preferred brand to a more environmentally friendly alternative. And far from diminishing amid the pandemic, environmental concern is actually on the rise. Seventy percent of respondents are now more aware that our climate is affected by human activity than they were before the crisis began.

And according to a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2017, the textile industry:

  • Was responsible for more greenhouse emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined;
  • Released 16 times more micro-plastics into the oceans than microbeads from cosmetics;
  • Was responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution through dyeing and treatment processes;
  • Used 97% of new fibres from virgin sources;
  • Doubled production between 2000 and 2015 yet saw a 36% drop in the amount of uses per garment under the same time period; and
  • Saw 73% of clothing items end up in landfill or incinerated at disposal.

What are the impacts of a throwaway culture

  1. The impact on workers rights

There have been numerous documentaries about this, a good one to watch is Behind the Labels.  There was a retailer that was selling a dress recently at 8p on Black Friday and caused a media fury.  If you consider all the costs that go into making a garment, it sends the wrong message to consumers that this is the potential price you can pay for products

  • Environmental impacts

The fashion industry is one of the biggest causes of pollution and take anywhere from 20-200 years to decompose. The waste from clothing manufacturing is enormous. Greenpeace estimates that 400 billion square meters of fabric are produced globally each year; 15% of that production, or 60 billion square meters, is made up of scraps of unusable garment cut-outs. Of the 80 billion pieces of clothing made each year, around 60 billion will be dumped into landfills. To produce synthetic threads are full of toxic chemicals and use a lot of water and then you have the farmers growing cotton and use pesticides to keep it growing. 

  • Perception of fashion changes

Anything that is easily disposable doesn’t hold value in the same way that quality garments hold.  Its very easy to see some forms of fast fashion as mere commodity garments, there has been huge publicity in the mainstream media about certain brands and what goes on behind the scenes, we are therefore in danger of having a poor perception on some of these brands.  If this isn’t enough, constant marketing campaigns are telling us we need the latest product.

  • Costs more overall

Its often a misconception that buying cheap means overall it costs you more. You end up buying more because the quality of the product simply doesn’t last. The true cost is a lot more than the price you see on the label.

  • Design styles stolen

Sometimes we see smaller designers having their products ripped off by fast fashion brands at a vastly reduced price because they have the economies of scale.

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