For many years, fast fashion has become the favorite of shoppers everywhere. From physical shops like Zara and H&M to online brands such as Boohoo, people love getting their hands on the latest clothes as quickly as possible, not to mention cheaply. It has become increasingly prevalent that these fast fashion industries are damaging the planet to no end. Fashion makers are committing to making their clothing more sustainable, making the whole fashion industry more environmentally friendly. It would seem that green is the new black, as more people are turning to sustainable fashion.
Harming the environment
The demand of fashion has doubled in the last 15 years, and according to research, the carbon emissions from the production of clothing has exceeded those of all maritime shipping and international flights combined – a pretty terrifying statistic. Materials like polyester and cotton make up over 85% of all clothing materials. Both of these are extremely damaging for the planet, not to mention maintaining them and preparing them to be created into clothes. Fabrics of any material require chemical dyes, which contaminate groundwater sources. Generally, the production and maintaining of these materials is harming the environment to no end.
Nowadays, people buy far more clothes and keep them for a substantially shorter period of time. The average amount of time a garment is worn in Europe has dropped by over a third in the last 15 years. This means that people are wearing clothes for less time and throwing them away pretty quickly. Unfortunately, when materials like polyester and nylon are washed, they expel particles that can contaminate sewage. These fibers make up a lot of pollution in the world’s oceans, and it is getting scarily dangerous. As consumers, we demand cheaper clothes, which drives the fashion industries to develop ways to be kinder to the environment.
According to some estimations, a garbage truck full of old clothes is dumped or burned every second. Only 1% of materials are recycled into new products, which is awful considering that a lot of clothes that go into landfill are in wearable condition. It is a little known secret that even companies who have pledged to sustainable fashion are dumping millions of dollars worth of perfectly fine unsold clothes. Thankfully, companies like Burberry have sworn to stop burning decent stock altogether, which will help a little toward this waste. Companies are increasing sales to employees, donating old stock, and donating clothes to disadvantaged people. According to reports taken from H&M, the company only burns clothes completely unfit for humans. They then burn these garments, but they do so in a power plant in Sweden which is working toward becoming fossil-fuel free. This is an incredible breakthrough in the world of sustainable fashion.
Industries in France have pledged to make fashion a far more sustainable trade. Given that France is home to some of the world’s most popular brands, this is an amazing step to sustainable fashion. In order to push companies to make new commitments toward this, people are coming together to make both companies and consumers realize the damage. However, a lot of work is still to be done. In the U.S., rules have encouraged brands to burn unsold goods that have been imported, which is horrendous for their efforts. There are very few regulations in the world that express the importance of avoiding certain dyes and certain materials, so it is very difficult for people to assess the actual impact the industry is having on the environment.
Although the industry has improved their impact on the environment, there is still a lot that can be done. When buying clothes, try to look for labels like ‘sustainable fashion’, because that will all contribute to helping the environment that bit more.