Fast Fashion – this is a term you’ve probably heard of once or twice, but maybe have not given it much thought since then. Or maybe, it has been a topic you’ve given thought to, but became overwhelmed by the obscurity and grandness of this industry, and felt helpless to do anything about it. Well not to worry. I’m going to give you all a quick look into what Fast-Fashion is and how you can change your buying habits.
In simple terms, Fast-Fashion is a multi-billion dollar fashion industry that is fast to produce, fast to consumer, and fast to wear-out. It is cheaply made and therefore, it is easy to consume and easy to discard. All of this has led to Fashion being one of the most polluting industries in the world today – just behind oil & agriculture. It is taking a major toll on our planet, so it’s important to be aware of where your clothing come from and the impact your purchases make.
So What’s The Problem?
Consumer choice is a good thing, right? So, if consumer’s have choices, and buy more, isn’t that better? Well sure, consumer choice is great, and everyone likes having options when they dress themselves in the morning. We all enjoy the feeling of purchasing a new outfit that reflects exactly who we are that day, in that moment. However, the problem lies in what we are consuming and how much.
Cheap clothing is made from cheap materials. Synthetic fabrics, like polyester and rayon, are petroleum based and production takes major tolls on the environment. When fabrics are produced cheaply, they are likely to fade and breakdown after a few washes. Or the trend will expire before you get a chance to wear it more than a couple times. This leads to extremely high turn around rates for a garment’s life cycle. Today, an item is only worn an average of 7 times before it is discarded by the original owner.
This extreme consumption has also led to extreme waste. Every year more than 15 Billion pounds of textile waste is produced in the United States alone. This breaks down to an average of 80 pounds per person. All this waste, made from synthetic materials, overwhelms landfills and takes hundreds of years to break down.
Cheap labor is also heavily associated with the Fast-Fashion industry. When you break down the cost of the product, only about 1%-2% of the retail price is associated with the cost of labor, meaning that the person who sewed your clothes earned pennies for the clothing on your back. In addition, this industry is notorious for child-labor and human rights violations.
The problems associated with Fast-Fashion are grand and layered. Each issue is interconnected with the other, as it typically goes with huge industries of this scale. But it is important to know that these problems do affect you, even if it is indirectly.
What Does This Have to Do With Me?
We all want to disassociate ourselves from the problems of the world today. After all, they came into being before we had any real power in establishing them. And while we may not have directly contributed to its creation, we all play a part in its continued success and the way it plays out in our lives.
I’ve mentioned this before, and I will continue to mention this in the future – consumer power is real. Our money speaks volumes, and what we choose to spend it on matters. We all work hard for our incomes, and we deserve to treat ourselves when we have the opportunity, but don’t you want your dollars to go towards something you are proud to own, something you will cherish, rather than items you care little about and toss away without much thought?
Additionally, the impact your purchases make is very real. The more clothing you purchase, the more clothing you will inevitably toss. Regardless if you donate it to a local charity, or hand down to a friend, eventually it will all end up in the same place – a landfill. Every purchase you make, whether it is clothing or not, will make an impact. It’s important to take responsibility for the things you purchase.
What Can I Do About It?
The biggest part of the battle, and the most significant thing you can do, is just to be aware. Once you learn about the problem, and accept your role in contributing to it, you become more inclined to take action. Start today and become a more conscious consumer.
I know not everything you buy can and will be a Sustainable/Ethical purchase. This is something even I struggle with as well. But every purchase should be made with intention and foresight. Before you buy ask yourself:
- What is the true cost for this item?
- Is this something I will love and cherish for a long time?
- Is this a trend I will be over soon?
- Will the fabric hold up after a few washes?
- Is this a company I can get behind?
- Is buying this item worth supporting the Fast-Fashion industry?
Just starting to be more intentional and conscientious about your purchases is the first step in truly changing the way you shop. Soon, with some practice and tools, you’ll be a pro at making the best choices for yourself, your wardrobe and the environment. It takes a little work, but I promise it’s worth the effort.
Con Mucho Amor,
Dress: LPA the Label (On Sale)
Jewelry: Artisan Made, From Morocco
Photography: Vanessa Acosta
Location: Los Angeles, Fashion District