Fast Fashion & its Impact on Society
We hear a lot about the environmental impacts of fast fashion. I can’t stop thinking about these issues, and I’m trying to make my own commitment to more sustainable decisions when it comes to my clothing purchases. My current shopping list to freshen up my wardrobe includes linen and organic cotton, and no more polyester anything, ever. But what about fast fashion and its impact on society?
I recently read an interesting article on The Good Trade, titled What is Ethical Fashion? It really shed some light on the fact that there is no true definition of either of these things, because they mean different things to different people. As a result, corporations can pass off slightly improved garments as being ‘ethically’ or ‘sustainably’ produced since there’s such a broad scope to the definitions.
When I started researching for this blog article, I was going to write about the dyeing process of textiles and the damage that it causes. I feel very strongly that clothing manufacturers need to take responsibility for the environmental damage they are causing… but then, so do we as consumers have to take responsibility for what we are purchasing. But as I was reading, I came across some information on the societal impacts of fast fashion, and decided it’s equally important to talk about the people who are impacted by our purchasing decisions.
Fast Fashion in the Third World
The growth of the fashion industry, spurred on by ‘fast fashion’ and its ever-changing trends, has helped economic growth in developing countries, which in general is seen as a positive thing. But ironically, this growth, because it’s happened over a relatively short period of time, is also creating its own challenges as a result.
According to non-profit Remake, 75 million people are making our clothes today. 80% of apparel is made by young women between the ages of 18 and 24.
Garment workers, primarily women, in Bangladesh make about $96 per month. The government’s wage board suggested that a garment worker needs 3.5 times that amount in order to live a “decent life with basic facilities.”
A 2018 U.S. Department of Labor report found evidence of forced and child labor in the fashion industry in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam and other countries.
Meanwhile Back at Home…
These are some of the more obvious impacts on the third world & developing nations. But what about here in the western world? To me it feels more of a mindset that shifted with the invention of plastics and the creation of the disposable culture. I’m talking about Ziploc bags, plastic water bottles, and all sorts of food packaging from take out containers to styrofoam egg cartons. A mental shift took place some years ago that meant fast + disposable = easier & better. We are now, gradually, beginning to make our way back to a more natural and eco-conscious mindset. Gladly I haven’t seen a styrofoam burger box in a few years.. but the mainstream mentality still exists that quick & easy beats quality, and that mindset filters through to most areas of our lives.
Fashion has become an industry that has shifted away from purchasing quality pieces that used to last for years, to making cheap imitations that fall apart or go out of style in a matter of months, and are unquestionably destined for the landfill. The mentality is starting to shift, but it will take some time to trickle down through the many layers of society.
What Can We Do?
So how, as consumers, can we do our part, to help speed the change?
1) Most importantly, BUY LESS STUFF
2) Buy with Purpose – buy only what you need
3) Buy Responsibly – do your research and support companies whose values you believe in
4) Be a Disrupter – think end of ownership & give your clothing a second – or third – life beyond your closet. Our app can help extend the life of your clothing and the money in your wallet. Download myWardrobe Online for free.
Questions? Head to our website to see what we’re all about. myWardrobe Online … Your Fashion Sense Doesn’t Have to Cost the Earth.
What will be your top priority when it comes to buying fashion? Leave a comment below, and thanks for reading.