These facts and insights into what happens behind the manufacturing, disposal and distribution of clothing and trends will leave you flabbergasted at the amount of damage fast fashion does to this planet.
1) Modern day slavery
One might think slavery is an extinct concept and everybody is thriving in Utopia. We knew you saw this coming as an exaggeration, however enthusiastic and stringent the anti slavery bills and legislature have been, most companies in the fashion industry are brilliantly opaque about their supply chains. Often times, responsibility is shoved on to factory owners hence, paving way for modern slavery.
Please feel free to be surprised and shocked at this atrocity :
Majority of the fashion labour in the global scenario do not even make 5 GBP a day, cannot live with dignity. The industry they help maintain is worth 28 billion GBP across just Europe.
(From “Tailored Wages UK”, a report by Labour Behind the Label published in March this year)
We always exclaim how a living wage is a human right, seems pretty obvious it’s not the way the fashion industry is partying.
2) An illusionary circle of micro trends
Everybody knows that one of the most efficient ways to generate wealth is through multiple sources of income, this ensures the marginalization of risk. The Einsteins of the fashion industry have similarly ensured that both the producer and consumer are exploited to ensure maximum returns. They want you to feel out of trend every week and keep buying!
It used to be pretty simple in the past, there were two fashion seasons, Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Sprinting ahead of 2014 we have 52 ridiculous micro seasons every year now! Our noteworthy mentions are:
Zara the pioneer of fast fashion has two new design deliveries twice a week to its stores. H&M and Forever21 get daily shipments of new styles. Topshop tops the billboard with about 400 new styles every week posted on its website. 400!
(From Elizabeth Cline in her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion)
The muse is low quality and high volume. Fast fashion companies strive towards selling stuff faster than instant. (Goodness that’s not possible)
3) Contribution to the planet’s pollution enhancement
The funny thing about clothes is that you cannot compost them like banana peels. Although made from natural materials like cotton, linen and silk -these natural material go through a variety of unnatural processes like chemical baths, bleach and printing. These would release toxic chemicals into the water if disposed into open air landfills or would release toxins into the air in the case of incinerators. On the other hand their cousins like polyester, nylon and acrylic are made from a type of plastic derived from petroleum. These guys would take about just a couple of centuries to biodegrade, nothing longer than that hopefully!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013 US of A, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded in landfills or incinerators. The EPA also estimates that diverting all of these often toxic-trashed textiles into a recycling program would be synonymous to a phenomenon of taking 7.3 million cars and their carbon dioxide emissions on a farewell party off the road.
4) Taking least developed countries on a ride
Fast fashion corporations outsource the headache of production to poor countries making it look like a golden handshake where the people are given a chance to rise above poverty. Then the sneaky enslavement is done painting this illusion in the people’s mind of enrichment and other waffle, this results in lowered production costs and enormous volumes.
A 3 trillion dollar industry sadly gives out very little to the ones who produce:
Each year across the world, 1.5 billion garments are sewn by an estimated 40 million people, working in 250,000 factories.
(From Thomson Reuters Foundation)
5) Propagation of Child Labour
There are machines that can craft and apply sequins, beads etc to clothing exclaiming a sense of handiwork, but these machines are very expensive. Garment factories would rather invest in cheap informal labour who can sew from home. With the help of their children, home workers sew as fast as feasibility and daylight permit. The transactions are again presided over by several middlemen who compete to bestow the lowest wages possible in the garment industry.
It is estimated that about 20 to 60% of garment production is sewn at home by informal workers.
(From author Lucy Siegle in her book, To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?)
We hope this articles was informative and helps you make a conscious purchasing decision.
Did we miss out on something or do you find some of the fast fashion implication stated here to be in discrepancy somehow? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.