The Environmental Cost of Fast Fashion

While Vogue features Jil Sander Resort, Levis, Gucci, and other top fashion brands in the clothing industry, consumers are faced with the dilemma of keeping existing garments for longer and purchasing new ones to add to their clothing collection. As many sales, discounts, and coupon offers are out in the market, the temptation of buying more clothes becomes inevitable.

What is Fast Fashion?

An unintentional effect of fast fashion is the production of textile waste. This results from people buying clothes without keeping them as long as possible. The worldwide growth of fast fashion merchants has exacerbated this problem around the world. Fashion Brands in developed countries are condensed, so to be able to sell more goods, merchants must entice shoppers with something new to persuade them that the set of clothes they currently own are no longer trendy.

Rising disposable income levels means fewer “repairs and corrections” than in recent generations. This is because new has become cheaper and more convenient compared to repairing items. Due to the busy lifestyle, many people have less time than those from the previous generations. Over time, they lose sewing and repairing skills, which means less delight for repairing clothes. The way the market fashion make purchasing convenient through weekly and seasonal sales, the way we use clothes has become somewhat disposable in a sense.

With the issue of growing textile production that produces more textile waste in the last few years, there is also a growing interest in implementing the circular module in textile production. This means reusing materials whenever and wherever possible. Nonetheless, despite of a good cause, the rate in recycling textiles is still very low. And while there are charity shops and recycling points willing to take in unwanted clothes, many people still prefer to dispose of unwanted garments through landfills rather than recycling or donating it for a better cause.

What can ordinary shoppers do to help reduce textile waste?

The big question – can consumers help lower the environmental cost of high (and fast) fashion while shopping? Selecting eco-friendly clothing is a challenge because there are lots of pros and cons to many fiber types. Clothes that are tagged with “natural fibers” doesn’t mean it is always better than clothes that use synthetic materials. So the choice of fiber in clothing is another challenge in the clothing industry that has its own environmental impact.

Therefore, recycling is often the best thing to do because it decreases the pressure on material sources and targets the increasing issue in waste management. As an example, Patagonia brand made an effort to create polyester fleece made from plastic bottles knowing that even the use of natural organic cotton also contributes to a negative impact towards the environment.

So what can ordinary shoppers really do? It all boils down to buying smarter, caring for clothes that’s already owned, repairing items, recycling, customisation, and responsible clothes disposal. Finally, the most sensible thing we could do would be to preserve our clothing so that it can be used for a longer time and reduce purchase of new stuff.

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