Welcome back to school Legacy-Makers! In light of this month’s Planet Focus, CSRS would like to discuss a topic that plagues many of us today as (demanding) consumers; Fast Fashion. What is Fast Fashion? It’s the concept of inexpensively and rapidly mass-producing trending fashion items from the catwalks and runways; a practice championed by many of our beloved brands, such as Zara, H&M, and Forever 21. Who wouldn’t love a good bargain? Being thrifty is not only practical from an economic standpoint, but it’s also routinely considered chic and boast-worthy. However, cheap fashion is a very multifaceted issue, concerning pollutant raw materials, ineffective waste-management, and socially unacceptable working conditions. While the personal benefits of recreating high-end looks at/for much lower prices may entice many, has it pushed us away from being conscious consumers? Are we buying more than we need, simply due to convenience and ‘great mark-downs’? Before we start getting too philosophical about the crippling abyss of capitalist culture, let’s see some National Geographic statistics - because numbers don’t lie!
It takes 2,700L OF WATER to make ONE COTTON SHIRT, which is enough water for ONE PERSON to drink for 21/2 YEARS.
Making ONE PAIR OF JEANS emits as much greenhouse gases as DRIVING A CAR FOR 120KM.
ONE GARBAGE TRUCK OF CLOTHES are burned in landfills EVERY SECOND and can sit in landfills FOR UP TO 200 YEARS.
It takes 75 MILLION PEOPLE to make our garments, 80% of them are made by women aged 18-24.
Female garment workers in Bangladesh ONLY MAKE $96/MONTH, but they need 3.5 TIMES THAT AMOUNT for basic living standards.
How could we go about this better? Easy and not so easy.
We can extend our clothing items product life-cycle. So, instead of disposing of them, you can make the effort to go through your closet seasonally and/or annually, and either opt to:
Donate them to local charities and clothes drives, or sell them for a bit of cash to local, second-hand boutiques
Pass certain items down to younger siblings, and urge them to increase the longevity of their own clothing
Try to repurpose clothing (e.g. cutting old jeans into shorts, using old T-shirts as dish rags)
Try to repair simple rips and tears at home or at a tailor
Only buy when you need to buy, not just when items are on sale
We can opt to shop at more conscious-fashion brands that not only upcycle their materials and make limited quantities of their clothing, but that also carry more classic styles that are practical throughout the year and that will not go out of style in the blink of an eye. A few examples include:
Kotn (based in Canada, organic cotton, safe and fair labour, charitable)
thredUp (based in the USA, upcycling through thrifting, ethical, affordable)
Patagonia (based in the USA, Fair Trade certified, organic cotton, sustainable)
Encircled (based in Canada, small-batch production, upcycling, eco-fabrics)
Frank and Oak (based in Canada, hydro-less denim, recycled material, upcycling)
We can petition for brands to STOP engaging in Fast Fashion habits, including but not limited to burning end-inventories, producing large quantities in cheap, child-labour sweatshops, and using non-biodegradable, harmful raw materials. We can continue this conversation on Fast Fashion through social media and other feedback platforms, in order to shed more light on this topic to brand representatives and our friends.
Where is the Future of Fashion heading?
Despite the daunting reality of the situation the fashion industry is facing, we are already starting to see monumental change in clothing brands such as Zara, who recently released a new line of hip, outerwear entirely made of recycled plastic bottles. Further, we may even see a rise in leasing wardrobe to customers, such as Rent The Runway, a company that promotes reuse rather than mass production.