Are the Clothes on Your Back Killing Mother Nature?
By Beth Hoad
So, why is fast fashion bad? While some praise fast fashion as a way for all levels of consumers to own trendy clothing, the environmental and human costs are hidden away in each garment’s lifecycle. From cut-rate materials to hefty dumping processes, fast fashion strips away years of the planet's lifespan and big brands are some of the leading contributors.
Water quality, textile waste and overproduction all lead to the increased levels of carbon emissions that fuel this industry. From irresponsible disposal from excess clothing materials, to toxic dyes, this industry is quite literally opening the floodgates to increased water pollution. This puts not only the environment at risk but the lives of the people who are subject to it. The increased waste of synthetic fibers in landfills and constant use of fossil fuels are responsible for releasing harmful chemicals into the environment.
With the steady influx of money these big brands are making, why would they change and what are the incentives?
Fast Fashion: More Harm Than Good?
Fast fashion has changed the way consumers buy and dispose of cheap and trendy clothing. An interesting reason why these big brands can get away with so much is because they outsource production to countries with fewer restrictions. Have you heard of the expression “out of sight, out of mind”, well in some ways this is what big brands rely on.
Environmental issues are less of a problem if they don’t directly affect them, and labor laws are neglected if they don’t directly see the conditions workers are under. Because of the tight restrictions the U.S. has for the fashion industry, outsourcing to other countries with less regulations for environmental factors and labor costs not only contributes to profits for big brands, but also offers faster production.
Unfortunately, countries like Bangladesh and other Asian countries have very lax working restrictions. Garment workers can be seen working upwards of 16 hours a day, where they’re forced to work long hours to meet brand deadlines. They’re paid unbelievably low wages and work in harmful environments with toxic chemicals, making just enough to survive.
Taking a Stand Against Fast Fashion
It’s up to us to choose ethical brands like Vustra, who work with fair trade units and offer safe standards for garment workers. Without choosing ethical brands, big companies get away with unregulated labor laws because they know garment workers will work in horrible conditions in order to live. Many garment workers have next to nothing, and big brands take advantage.
Money speaks. If enough people use their voice, and make responsible buying choices, it will invoke change. In order to fix these environmental issues, we need to look at innovations to new textile development, sustainability initiatives and consumers habits. Brands like Grammar NYC, who choose to purchase organic cotton in order to avoid toxic dyes, support local artisans and use fair labor practices to promote sustainability, are who we should be supporting.
D.O.B encourages sustainable and ethical choices and practices for the planet and the many workers in the global apparel & accessories production industry who deserve inclusion and a better future.