Is there a way to put brakes on fast fashion? Yes, says Annesha Thakur
You may have come across the term "fast fashion" in recent months as the clothing industry phenomenon has attained more attention than ever from eco-friendly buyers. However, this phrase on everybody's tongue comes without much knowledge of how it began or how to avoid it.
A brief lesson for those who are not aware of it: Fast fashion symbolises the apparel brands that rapidly, inexpensively - and frequently unsustainably - produce fashionable clothes to sell at relatively low prices. To maintain low production costs, these brands design clothes with a shrinking lifespan and use resources that grow their negative impact on the environment, like polyester, which is generally difficult to decompose.
Clothes that are poorly-produced are meant to be discarded quickly and the result of this is piles of waste. And beneath all of this, what is often forgotten is the worker. The people involved in making these garments are often underpaid, undervalued, and mistreated.
You'll be surprised to know that new-age fast fashion retailers are now forming 52 fashion seasons each year. Through the means of advertising, they are generating profits off the impractical societal expectations for customers to keep up with swiftly-changing "trends." This mentality of "churn and burn" is not only hazardous for our planet but also the way we think about ourselves.
As per a report released by Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2018, the textile industry generates more greenhouse gas emissions as compared to aviation and international shipping combined.
Looking at it from a global perspective, clothing production has more than doubled in the last two decades, and an average person now purchases 60 percent more clothes every year and retains them for about half of what they did 15 years back.
Since fashion evolves so quickly, millions of tons of clothing are directed towards landfills, where they settle and exude toxic dyes and chemicals that contaminate groundwater and soil.
So, is there a way to put brakes on fast fashion?
In short, YES! Here's how you can flee the complex psychological ambush from the fashion industry:
Create a capsule wardrobe
Getting rid of the (mostly difficult) decision of what clothes to wear every morning is a healthy way to create space in the mind for better and more important decisions. This is what capsule wardrobes do! Such wardrobes contain only superior-quality and much-preferred things that are worn exclusively. To utilize a capsule wardrobe completely, ensure picking the necessities first and keeping an eye towards its versatility so that they can be coupled together.
Since fast fashion seasons keep changing every other week, new clothes are being produced faster than it takes to understand this sentence. Purchasing secondhand is a wise way of reducing clothing footprints. Besides having the earth thank you, secondhand shopping enables the great scope to find superior quality, unique clothes at a portion of the rate of buying new.
Buy only what you need
Majority of us are guilty of purchasing more things than we actually require. But refusing a lifestyle of over consumption is all about accepting and appreciating what we already have. Accessorise your outfits and mix and match your clothes to stay at par with the fashion trends. Scientists, for years, have been indicating that more than things, experiences make us happier, so why not trade shopping for a more valuable experience-based pastime?
Prefer hang drying than washing
While on a mission to reduce your carbon footprint, hanging clothes out in the sun instead of washing them will make them last longer and kill the bacteria that give birth to odour. At the time of washing, make use of a cold setting and skip the option of a dryer in order to maintain fabric quality for longer.
When buying new, look for ethical clothing
Be cautious of green washing. Investing in ethical clothing isn't just about finding an "ethically produced" authorisation. There are multiple facets to an item of garment that makes it either sustainable or unsustainable. In which part of the world was this item of clothing made? How many carbon miles did it cross to land in your closet? Does its cost echo its quality? If an item of clothing is cheaply made and cheap in price, it is unlikely that it will live long. Ensure checking for unreliable and poorly produced garments.
By merging all of these planet-friendly efforts and always prioritising quality over quantity, together we can help put brakes on fast fashion. Maybe, it's also time to consider our choices and make the swift move towards sustainable fashion, for better!
Sustainable fashion - what it is and why it matters?
People often perceive sustainability as something that makes an impact on the planet. However, it goes much beyond environmentalism. Sustainability covers the "triple bottom line" - the three P's - planet, people, and profit.
So, sustainability in the fashion industry occupies a rounded system that creates apparel with environmental, economic, and social integrity. When and if done rightly, sustainability can be smoothly plaited into the bliss of shopping. This interest, in today's time, is important, and there are countless ways to enjoy fashion while being sensitive, vigilant, and gentler on the planet.
Small steps turn into giant leaps
What most of us forget or perhaps don't pay attention to is that sustainability in the fashion industry is not just about opting for eco-friendly fabrics and smacking the hanger with the term 'sustainable.' In reality, sustainability originates when the whole supply chain involved
in producing that garment is sustainable. We need to understand that this supply chain is an ecosystem in itself that must be strengthened, supported, and sustained indeterminately to let the world see its true environmental impact.
So how can you make 2020 the year for sustainable fashion? Listed below are some of the ways in which you can commit to sustainable fashion and contribute towards transforming the fashion industry into a powerful force!
The first step towards committing to sustainable fashion is to educate yourself. Examine the brand's production process, check where the clothes are made, and if they are handmade. Consider the garment's fabric - whether it is linen, organic cotton, wool, or hemp? Go through the brand's "About" page before hitting the "Buy" button just to know how committed it is to change and how eco-friendly its actions are.
Bid farewell to fast fashion
Isn't it tempting and natural for all of us to take the easy route and make a purchase from fast fashion brands since they are affordable and trendy, but do not forget how much the same brands wreak mayhem on the environment? Not to mention, fast fashion business models exploit their labour force, poison natural resources, and fall apart easily. Discourage such fast fashion brands and advocate for sustainable fashion consumption.
Buy from brands committed to bringing change for the better
When doing research, you'll identify which brands have adopted or are working towards adopting eco-friendly practices at different stages of the production process. If you plan to shop, ensure prioritising these brands.
Spread the word
Now that you know the importance of participating in sustainable fashion, inspire others to help bring about a change and keep spreading the word for good. The journey to embracing sustainability in the fashion industry is a tough and long one, but only possible if buyers join hands together in amplifying the movement.
It's easy to overlook the power we have as consumers or the impact our purchase makes. There are small changes we can make to our lifestyle to pave the way towards a more and better sustainable fashion future.The main thing to know is that there's no pre-defined secret to becoming a conscious consumer, just like there's no rule to dressing "right." But one thing is sure: as the sustainable fashion movement progresses and evolves, making choices with thought will perhaps get easier and clearer with time.
Note on Author
Annesha Thakur, handling Brand & Growth Partnership at Northmist, has been working as a content marketer for the last 5 years.