As it’s Fashion Week season, it is only fitting (no pun intended!) to discuss about the fashion industry. Fashion week is hosted all around the world to promote the new styles and current trend. For those who attempt to keep up with the fashion world, the environmental culprits are hiding in their wardrobes. Fashion brands such as Forever21, New Look and Zara are labelled as ‘fast fashion’ as they constantly are promoting new trendy clothing at low prices and it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying clothes that we don’t really need. We’ve all been there, trust me!
But did you know that this needless purchasing and continuous mass production of clothes is not only harming our wallet but it is having a disastrous effect on the environment?
I grew up reading fashion magazines and have always had a passion and admiration of how individuals can feel great and express themselves through fashion. But, if I knew and learnt about how fast fashion is affecting our environment and people I would have changed my outlook of what I purchased and how often. Beneath the bright colours and comfy clothes, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, after oil. When we think of pollution we think about power plants, sewage and polluting cars… We don’t think about the shirts on our backs and the shoes on our feet.
The production of clothes is highly water intensive and it involves long and varied supply chains of raw materials, textile manufacture shipping, retail, use and the disposal of the item of clothing. The carbon footprint of the fashion industry is absolutely huge based on the obvious pollutants and the pesticides used in cotton farming, toxic dyes and the waste discarded from clothing manufacture. I could go on listing the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry. I’m sure the big fashion brands are aware of this but sadly no action is being taken to reduce these harmful effects.
I became truly aware of the fashion sector when I watched The True Cost. This is a documentary that explains how the human and environmental costs have increased even though the price of clothing has decreased. The documentary takes you from the well known stores to the unknown slums. This is an eye-opening reality of the people who make the clothes we buy and wear on a regular basis.
If I were to give a suggestion of how to be fashionable in a sustainable way; I would say that we should stay away from fast fashion. Since reading and watching how the fashion industry is harming our environment, it has made me think twice about the clothes I buy. I have also seen that there are eco-friendly clothing brands out there which are definitely worth looking out for! These brands are slightly more expensive than your fast fashion brands, but in the long-term have a greater benefit for you and the planet.
So next time you shop, you’ll not only still be looking stylish, you’ll also be more ethically and environmentally aware!