What is the Fashion Industry?
The fashion industry designs, manufactures, and distributes apparel. In its simplest form, designers create patterns that are then sent out and produced using natural and synthetic materials. Natural materials, like cotton or bamboo, are extracted from the earth. Synthetic materials, such as nylon and rayon are human-made. Once these clothing items are manufactured, they are then transported all over the world, using many natural resources, and then sold online or in retail stores.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast Fashion is mass-produced, distributed, and marketed quickly and uses inexpensive materials for production. Since these items can be produced inexpensively, fashion trends change rapidly. Fast fashion companies usually have thousands of styles of the latest trends and use overseas labor, which has many environmental injustices associated with it.
Fast Fashion Examples:
- Forever 21
- Old Navy
Fast Fashion’s Environmental Impact
The fashion industry has a surprisingly HUGE impact on the environment. The fashion industry can cause water pollution, mass water consumption, microfiber pollution, plastic pollution, waste pollution, chemical pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, soil degradation, rainforest destruction, and numerous environmental injustices. Even more, the repercussions of fast fashion include textile waste, dangerous materials in some clothing, animal harm, and inhumane working conditions, to name a few. One article states that “80 billion new pieces of clothing are consumed worldwide every year, which is 400% more than 20 years ago.” Read more here.
How Does Fast-Fashion Affect Environmental Justice?
Fast fashion has a major impact on the environment on environmental justice. Check out these articles to learn more about its impact.
The good news, the fashion industry can and is becoming more environmentally sustainable. Read these articles to learn how you can green your wardrobe.
What Can You Do to Support the Environment?
- Do your research. Find clothing brands that support environmental sustainability and env. justice. Frequently these can be more pricey; however, the quality of the piece will last much longer.
- Invest in quality pieces that last. Don’t follow the trend. Develop your own individual style with pieces you will wear more than 30 times.
- Shop at and sell your old clothes at thrift or consignment stores in person or online -(think Poshmark)
- Rent clothes that you will only wear once-like a dress or suit.
- Take care of your clothes and learn to sew if something rips or tears.
- Donate your old clothes to places that support a circular economy. Check out the Give Back Box Program.
- Change your perspective. Contemplate the negative impacts of fast fashion and realize that a small, quality wardrobe can last a long time.
- Many successful people dress the same on purpose! (It reduces decision fatigue and you can get more done!)
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