Once upon a time, I was a slave to fast fashion, particularly when I was in college. Short on funds with a need to always look cute when heading somewhere, I frequented those places that took the look from what was in style and reproduced the garments quickly and inexpensively.
What defines a fast-fashion garment?
- Something that’s made from inexpensive material, designed to breakdown after wearing just a few times so that consumers will toss it and replace it quickly.
- Usually made in a location where labor is cheap, and safety isn’t a concern.
- Fast turnaround time between the fashion being showcased to when pieces are on display at stores.
- On-trend styles.
- Sometimes produced in limited quantities to urge buyers to purchase quickly or lose their chance at a particular item.
The negative impact of fast fashion.
- Waste. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and textiles each year.
- Water Pollution. Many times, fast-fashion clothing is made from synthetic fibers which breakdown in the wash forming tiny plastic fibers. These tiny fibers are too small to be caught by the machine’s filters, which can add up to thousands of fibers from just one load. They are carried to wastewater treatment plants but are too small to be removed during processing, so they are dumped into rivers which feed into oceans. Plastics breakdown slowly in water, so the number of fibers in the ocean are increasing. In addition, plastic is buoyant, so it will travel long distances, impacting lots of fish and animals.
- Unsafe Labor Conditions. To produce items quickly and inexpensively, factories are often filled with workers (both children and adult) in unsafe conditions where they work for long hours for little pay.
- Carbon Emissions. When a garment is produced, the raw materials are transported in, finished product is transported from the factory to stores, transported a third time by either delivery or a person driving to a store, and finally transported to a landfill, donation site, or burned. Now multiply that by the number of pieces quickly being produced and sold, and you have a big carbon footprint being left by the fast-fashion industry.
How to Combat Fast Fashion
- Invest in timeless, high-quality pieces. Price can be indicator of quality. If the regular price of a t-shirt is $5, it might be a clue regarding quality. It is difficult to produce a high-quality t-shirt, properly pay workers, market the garment, and transport it for sale for $5.
- Know your brands. Before purchasing a new garment, do some research on the company. There are sustainable brands that use recycled or all-natural materials, follow labor laws, and source materials properly. Make sure you are familiar with their company mission statement and their social and environmental policies.
- Don’t just discard old clothes. Consider doing a clothing swap with friends, re-purposing a shirt into a pillow, or reselling items in a second-hand store. These are just a few ideas to help keep clothing out of landfills.
At Shores, we pride ourselves on using the best products, safest procedures, and skilled labor to care for your clothes. Please contact us or visit our locations and let us know if you have questions about your garments or if we can be of service.