When we collectively become more conscious about our intentions and the impact we have on the planet and those around us, we can have a massive social impact.
Fast fashion is the mass production of high fashion designs sold at a cheap cost. It's no secret that the impact of fast fashion and over consumption is a huge contributing factor to global warming, but how bad exactly is it?
Read below for details on the Social, Environmental, and Economic impact of the fashion industry and consumerism, and how shopping second hand is the second best option to not buying anything at all.
The fast fashion industry has been criticized for its ethical treatment of employees for decades.
Human rights, the environment, and workers’ rights get lost when everything in the fashion industry is focused on profits. Garment factories are forced to produce products at such low costs, resulting in workers’ safety and wages being sacrificed.
There are many downfalls in fast fashion that directly impact human rights. Workers in factories experience extremely low wages and unsafe working conditions with little to no protection. Furthermore, women working in these fast fashion factories are often subject to gender violence and sexual harassment. Fast fashion does not support the sustainable development goals of the 2030 agenda. These goals include; decent work and economic growth, gender equality and reduced inequalities. Often consumers do not tend to question who made these pieces of clothing and how these workers are treated. The clothing industry is one of the few industries that continues to be heavily reliant on human labour. Many people who work in fast fashion production factories take on these jobs because it is the only work available to them. If we stopped supporting these companies and demanded they pay a living wage to their workers, they would be forced to change. Not contributing to fast fashion until labour policies have changed and purchasing second hand when possible is one way to advocate for an ethical work environment.
How to Create Change: Support businesses that are fully transparent about the way they treat and compensate their staff. Shopping from small businesses where you know exactly where your dollar is going and what it is supporting is important.
Did you know that one garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second? Around 85% of these clothes end up in landfills or are burned. Fast fashion is the second most wasteful industry behind gas. Along with unnecessary waste, the fashion industry contributes to 10% of our greenhouse emissions globally. The production of clothing also uses a significant amount of raw materials such as land, water, fossil fuels which are damaging to our environment. There is an immense amount of pesticides and chemicals used to produce fabric and many companies tend to dump these hazardous materials directly into waterways. The microfibres and clothing dye also impact our oceans and freshwater. This poisons the land and the drinking water of the surrounding small and large communities. Mass production in the fashion industry and the race to produce sickening low-priced products force manufacturers to use unsafe and harmful practices that negatively impact our environment.
How to Create Change
Make buying second-hand a priority. By purchasing something second hand you are decreasing the demand for new products.
More than 500 billion USD in the fast fashion industry is wasted annually as a result of too many clothes being produced and not worn. If the clothing industry reduced the number of garments produced, that excess money could be put into helping our environment rather than destroying it. If more people purchase second-hand clothing, the fashion industry could adjust their production accordingly. To put everything in perspective, 20 companies earn 97% of the world’s fashion industry profits. When companies have such a huge monopoly over the fashion industry, it is detrimental to small businesses that can not compete with the buying power of these corporations. Furthermore, in only four days, the average CEO of these fast-fashion companies earns what a garment worker earns in their entire lifetime! These big businesses do not care about the people working in their supply chain whether that is in the country where the garments are produced or where they are sold. Withholding such enormous amounts of wealth from the workers is an unsustainable and unbalanced economic model, and long term it costs the taxpayers money to cover the difference to provide these people with enough resources to stay alive.
How to Create Change
Support small businesses. Did you know, of every dollar spent in small businesses, 67 cents of that stays in the local economy?