Why Fast Fashion is Not Good for People and Planet?

Staying in Dubai, it is so difficult to keep yourself away from fashion and trends, like any metropolitan city, it’s part of the lifestyle here. But I am surviving the entire year of 2017 without any fashion shopping! Why? Because I have been trying to raise awareness about how traditional fashion industry has so many adverse effects on our society and survival on this planet. Through no fashion shopping year, I am also focusing on less stuff more experiences lifestyle and wearing the same items from my wardrobe for more than even 30 wears creatively.

1. State of Workers in Fashion Industry

We are all aware of Rana plaza incidence took place in Bangladesh in 2013 where many workers were killed

 

making fast fashion clothing in inhuman conditions. But the state of workers and artisans is as poor in fashion industry around the world be it Columbian mines or Vietnam textile mills or Bangladesh factories. These workers are mainly women or child labors who get underpaid so much that they hardly survive on these wages. They work in unsafe and dangerous working conditions are exposed to chemicals which can risk their long-term health.

 

So while we are so worried about looking in vogue, these labors who make our clothes just survive hand to mouth. By shopping new clothes just because we desire not need to, do we really need to support this inequality?

2. Dumping Used Clothes in African Countries

While the fashion industry always keeps up out of fashion with constantly changing new trends, many people fell for it and keep on revamping their wardrobes. Keep discarding old items (which they have hardly used) and keep on buying new ones. Now, these discarded fashion pieces created another big industry, which basically takes all your used clothes from US, Europe even UAE to Africa and sell it to the developing countries or underdeveloped countries like Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania etc. We think that it’s good that those poor people can use our old clothes. But the fact is these second-hand clothes are harming the new developing economies. They are unable to create or support their own local sustainable textile industry and create any employment through it.

Why are we indirectly deciding the fate of people in these African countries by dumping our used clothes on them? Who gave us that right?

3. Women and Their Confidence

Some glossy magazines or so-called fashion experts & marketing tactics in the fashion industry are telling our women what to wear and how to look good? Aren’t we all educated, independent women unable to decide what to wear? I think we are capable of choosing what is comfortable, functional, long lasting and what we like. We should be also capable of ignoring people who are judging us for what we wear and not noticing what we are.

Plus if we think about our younger generations who fall quickly into fast fashion marketing tactics. So much focus is diverted from personal development to just looking good in young girls. We don’t need fashion industry to decide something about our body image and size. We don’t want our daughters to get wrong ideas of body image and self-confidence, do we? We definitely don’t need to learn the wasteful habits to look trendy in 52 micro-seasons of fashion during a year.

4. Human Health

Our clothes generally contain some hazardous chemicals and toxins like formaldehyde, perfluorinated chemicals, NPD, PPD, VOCs, flame retardant, pesticides, insecticides and dioxin-producing bleach. These chemicals can have serious adverse health effects including stroke, higher blood pressure, a higher rate of infertility, increased risk of heart attack & even cancer.  The children’s clothing also contains the same chemicals. Cheaper the cloth lower can be the quality of clothes and higher could be toxicity. Some manufacturers even use lead salts to create bright hues.

So just by buying and wearing new clothes frequently can lead you to some kind of sickness and diseases. Are you ready to compromise your health just to look fashionable?

 

5. Effects Of Fast Fashion On Environment

The fashion industry has a huge contribution to energy and water consumption worldwide.  Cotton is water thirsty, according to WWF, it can take up to 2,700 liters to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt. But Cotton alternatives are not very sustainable as well. Polyester and nylon are common synthetic alternatives to cotton. They are made from petrochemicals that do not biodegrade. Production of these materials consume significant energy and emit nitrous oxide which is a prominent greenhouse gas.

The fashion industry is also a massive contributor in terms of polluting water, air and other natural resources. Around 8000 synthetic chemicals are used in manufacturing textiles. The textile companies drain millions of gallons of wastewater to our freshwater sources after treatment and dyeing of textiles. The leather industry is another culprit of polluting our water resources with its hazardous tanning process. The garments made out of polyester are another source of pollutants. Every time we wash polyester cloths the microfibers are released in wastewater. It is estimated that a single polyester garment releases 1,9000 individual plastic microfibers!

The fashion industry doesn’t just pollute our water. According to Forbes, the apparel industry is responsible for 10% of all carbon emissions globally. The carbon emissions not just during the production of fashion pieces but also transporting raw material and then final product around the world. That’s why they say your dress is well traveled than you.

6. Fashion Waste to Landfill

Most of the fast fashion clothing is made such low quality to achieve the lower price that you can’t use them longer. Rather the fast fashion businesses want you to come back to buy your next clothes soon. So most of the fast fashion clothes end up on landfill. Now, most of these are made out of synthetic material and do not bio-degrade so they sit there on landfill and contribute to methane gas emission over the time. Unfortunately, the garment waste is even getting burned which is harmful to most of them are made of synthetic blend materials and emit harmful gases.

There is the only way to tackle fashion waste is avoid synthetic fibers, invest in slow fashion, quality pieces and use it again and again, upcycle them and try not to send them to landfill. Fashion waste is also the waste created while manufacturing the garments. Good news is now the new wave of zero waste fashion manufacturing processes are getting popular to reduce fabric scraps.

7. Marketing Tactics of Fashion Industry

The fast fashion industry is flourished because of the creative marketing tactics they have been using all these years. Sales and discounts are almost fake. The outlets of brands generally sell low-quality clothes made in cheaper factories. Rather fast fashion companies overmarket to increase consumption. They mainly use ‘buy now or never’ approach, which indirectly pushes customers to rush into buying.

Since the ethical fashion movement has started many fast fashion brands are even greenwashing their business. They are claiming that their clothes are more sustainable than they actually are by using varied marketing tactics.

 

8. Quality of Life and Happiness

Your sense of fashion and quality of life are not related at all! Quality of life & happiness is related to your relationship with friends & family, finding higher purpose of your life, doing things which you love to do. What brand of clothes, shoes, bag, watch you can afford and wear are not the indicator of your good life or achievements. Fashion is just an interest which you might have or not, it’s not a necessity. For many people, it’s just wearing some clothes as a basic need.

Rather many successful people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg are known for wearing an exact same dress every day. How amazing to have such enriching life, where you have so much to do that you can’t afford to waste your time in choosing clothes from your wardrobe every day; so you just have a wardrobe full of same clothes! Do you ever think that these great men are tasteless, inelegant, tacky, styleless and blah blah blah? If your answer is yes then boy, you really need to start living! There is always beauty in simplicity and remember less is more!

What if you have genuinely interested in fashion but don’t want to harm anyone? Now we know that fast fashion is not good for us and our generations to come then how do we buy clothes, shoes, bags, etc?  Sustainability Tribe is bringing you a complete guide to sustainable fashion which is ethical, Eco-friendly and also known as slow fashion. Stay tuned and subscribe here to get a notification.

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2 Comments on "Why Fast Fashion is Not Good for People and Planet?"

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I certainly agree with you! In fact, simplicity must the be the way of life. Am struggling to be like one, and hopefully to influence my family with this ideal.

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I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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