The Impacts of Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is when clothing retailers capture current fashion trends they see and quickly produce similar clothes to sell to the public before the next trends start to become popular. When first learning about it, it seems like something that we could all benefit from. Buying clothing at a reasonable price that fits in with the current trends sounds great, but in reality, fast fashion is creating many problems for the environment and for consumers.
The materials that go into creating these cheap clothing garments end up polluting our environment and creating unnecessary waste in landfills and waterways once the trend passes and a new one begins. Textiles are a type of material made out of animals, plants, minerals or synthetics. The first three are natural, but polyester is the most commonly used material that falls under the synthetics category. According to Alden Wicker from Ecocult, synthetic products are the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the oceans because it is possible for 1,900 fibers to come off every time they are washed. Lots of ocean animals end up eating these microplastics, which creates health issues and can eventually lead to death. Harsh chemicals that are also carcinogens, meaning they can cause cancer, are used to produce polyester, which cannot be dyed using natural or low impact dyes. These clothes will eventually end up in places where the dyes and chemicals seep into the ground and affect the environment around them. This affects the plants, which animals or humans could eat, subsequently affecting them as well.
Textiles made out of animal products, such as wool, are much better to use than synthetics. Wool is gathered from annual sheep shearing. Shearing a sheep does not hurt it; the sheep actually need to be sheared in order to stay alive. This is because sheep are not able to shed and the excess gathering of wool on them could cause them to overheat and die. It also benefits their hygiene as feces and urine become trapped in the wool which attracts bugs such as flies and maggots. This causes irritation to the animal and could cause infection. So farmers shear the sheep, collect the wool and then fabric is made out of it. Wool is an all natural, renewable material that can be dyed naturally.
While wool is much better than synthetics, there are still issues with it. In order to make room for the sheep, trees have to be cut down and land has to be cleared. Similar to cows, sheep release huge amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere. On top of that, animal cruelty is an issue when it comes to big businesses providing wool. Workers get paid by how much wool they provide to buyers, not by the hours they spend shearing. Some workers will do whatever they want in order to shear as many sheep as they possibly can in a short amount of time and this usually results in the sheep getting hurt, being forced down and having to stay there during the shearning process.
Plant textiles, the most commonly bought being cotton, are much better for the environment and the buyer. The majority of the time they are biodegradable and can be grown organically so you know pesticides and chemicals are not in your clothes, touching your skin. Natural fabrics made from plants are renewable and environmentally sustainable. With fabrics coming from plants, they can easily be replaced and regrown. Natural fabrics are biodegradable and decompose harmlessly. They are recyclable and can be reused without harming the environment.
I believe plant textiles are the best type of fabrics to use, especially cotton since it is one of the plants that can be grown organically without chemicals. They can be grown organically and without causing harm to the land around where they are grown, are used until they can’t be anymore and then once thrown away, they break down into the Earth without causing any type of harm. Plant-based textiles are definitely the best option compared to synthetics and animals.
Fast fashion has a negative impact on the environment. One way we can all make an effort to help in this situation is to recycle our current clothes or thrift to buy new wardrobe items. If you have an old pair of jeans you do not like anymore, you could turn it into another article of clothing, or even a bag. Tank tops or old shirts can be made into easy bags if you just sew the bottom of them. Recycling old clothes to make them something new that you will actually wear or use is good for the environment, and it could be a fun project in your spare time. Thrifting is always a great thing to do, too. You find good quality clothes at a reasonable price, and you are not giving money to companies who are contributing to the production of greenhouse gases such as Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters and many more. Shop at local businesses for good quality clothes at a reasonable price and help keep our world clean!