Forget Fast Fashion with a Sustainable Wardrobe
Fast Fashion, No…Sustainable Wardrobe, Yes. Fast fashion is a huge problem ethically and environmentally. Fast fashion refers to the quick and cheap production of clothing in labor shops based in developing countries. There used to be simple seasons for fashion: spring/summer and fall/winter.
Today, the fashion industry considers every week to be a new season, resulting in 52 “micro-seasons.” Fast fashion retailers take these trends from the catwalk to the stores every week, with the hopes that consumers buy as many garments as possible in the shortest amount of time. To make this possible, they hire the cheapest labor in the poorest countries. This supports unsafe and unethical working conditions, leads to the exploitation of many natural resources, and creates a lot of waste.
The first step to fighting fast fashion with a sustainable wardrobe is avoiding stores like Forever21 and H&M.
These fast fashion giants are only concerned about the bottom line. Their business models depend on the consumers’ consistent desire to buy new clothing, which is implied when the inexpensive garments they sell are constantly falling apart. These stores put a small markup on the price of their clothes and earn profit by selling hundreds of millions of items per year.
It is important to use your purchasing power as conscious consumers. Visit a secondhand store that recycles clothing or support local boutiques and slow fashion retailers, where you know that the materials are sourced ethically. You can also consider selling or donating the clothes you want out of your closet.
Sadly, the average American throws out nearly 81 pounds of clothing per year, which equals 26 billion pounds of textiles added to the landfill annually.
Today, most of our clothing is made of synthetic, petroleum-based fibers, meaning it will take decades for those garments to decompose in a landfill. Instead of tossing that out-of-style shirt in the trash, create a collection box for the clothes you want to take to the secondhand store. What seems like an un-wearable or “out” piece of clothing to you could be a great find to another person. Like they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Fast fashion might be cheap, but at what cost is it to our environment and the people overseas that work for it? There are many alternatives to buying new clothes from fast fashion retailers. Make the investment to buy better quality items that will last longer or purchase used clothes – both will save you money in the long-run and support a better cause.