Saturdays with Shavara
The rise in "Fast Fashion"
Welcome to a gloriously green Saturday with Shavara! With the end of summer nearing and the preparation for all things fall gearing up the desire to revamp that fall wardrobe is sure to be on many people’s minds. I want to take some time to discuss the ever-popular trend of “fast fashion” and the impact this newer trend has on our environment.
Society has seen a shift towards mass manufacturing of low-cost clothing where there has been a noticeable decrease in the quality of clothes produced. The “cheapening” of clothing production has led to an inability to repair damaged clothes, and a stronger desire to simply replace clothing items. The number of clothing items making their way to our landfills is shockingly high totaling around 10.5 million tons per year. What’s worse is that only 15% of clothing is recycled or donated to second hand clothing stores. One way to battle “fast fashion” is by shopping for secondhand clothing versus new clothing, which lowers our carbon footprint because of the energy, water and other natural resources that are saved.
Secondhand shopping also means a reduction in the amount of packaging materials such as; plastic, cardboard and paper needed for shipments to stores. As we all know by now most of the packaging material used in the United States ultimately goes into our waste stream versus being recycled. The results of limiting our consumption of new clothing (which is at an all-time high) is that we reduce the need for new production of natural and synthetic materials… Speaking of synthetic materials did you know that fabrics like Nylon and Polyester are made from petrochemicals and fossil fuels, which depletes our natural resources in an unexpected way. These synthetic fabrics also carry a negative bonus of not being biodegradable because they shed microfibers when washed. The microfibers that are shed from man-made fabrics during a normal wash cycle are too small to be filtered out in water treatment facilities and make their way into our water supplies. Those pesky microfibers aka microplastics are then ingested by fish and eventually work themselves into our food chain. If all that microfiber in our waterways isn’t scary to you there’s another off-putting fact; the dyes used to produce the colors in our clothing can be found at roughly 200,000 tons every year. Textile dyeing has won the official award for the second largest polluter of clean water GLOBALLY, coming in only after agriculture.
With the immeasurable number of pollutants going into our waterways, there is also the environmental impact of water consumption for producing new clothing. Most of you know by now I love a good statistic and this next one is pretty unbelievable; 1.5 trillion liters of water are used by the fashion industry each year for clothing production! Further, 23% of all chemicals produced worldwide are used for the textile industry.
Now, don’t get me wrong I’m certainly not suggesting running around if the buff or even feeling shame when purchasing a new garment. The goal of this blog post is to remind you that as a consumer you have the personal responsibility of how, what you consume, and the frequency. Buy less, buy better, mend your clothing versus tossing it, and recycle back to second hand stores when purging unwanted items. Think to yourself “can I wear this item for a long time?” before purchasing. The formula for change is rather simple; if consumers slow the demand for “fast fashion” the supply will go down as a result. The main environmental issue it the volume of production of new clothing has continued to increase, which leads to an increase in the output of pollutants.
Your best “sustainable fashion” choice is simply looking in your closet with a fresh set of eyes, hitting up a thrift store for unique quality pieces, shopping locally when possible and selecting clothing made in countries with stricter environmental regulations regarding disposing of chemicals and dyes. The trusty three R’s play an important role into this post; Reduce the amount you buy, Reuse clothes that you already own, and Recycle clothes you no longer desire to wear by donating them to stores like Goodwill or Salvation army. Let’s make protecting our environment a fashion statement this fall!
KOB’s Very own Blog Contributor,