Connecting our closet to the environment

Fast fashion products are produced quickly, poorly, and cheaply with little regard to the environment and fair/ethical practices

In the realm of fashion, there used to be two seasons- spring or summer and fall or winter. Clothes were produced from excellent quality and made to last, and that has shifted in these modern times. New developments and trends are designed, created, and made available every week. They have evolved to what we call these days as “fast fashion”. There are 52-two micro seasons, now. The fashion industry is making customers feel out of trend or style week after week, to get customers to buy more and quicker than ever before. Fast fashion products are produced quickly, poorly, and cheaply with little regard to the environment and fair/ethical practices. For instance, after these clothes are used and washed, the garments fall apart, making customers throw away the old ones and purchase new clothes.

We are continually fed with information/images of new trends, celebrities’ styles, and influencers’ styles - promoting and telling us what we should be wearing. We are overhauled by the media and the “buzz” surrounding us when we shop online/offline. We are convinced and assured that the products are the latest, the most fashionable, the must-have outfits only for us to be buying again in a matter of days or weeks, and that is how fast fashion has evolved and changed customers’ perceptions. We, as consumers, have disregarded and overlooked the tremendous impact of “fast fashion” on our environment.

According to the report ‘New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future’ by Ellen McArthur Foundation, the last 15 years saw the fashion apparel production doubled, with the increasing population across the globe and an annual value of $400 Billion clothing prematurely discarded. Apparel and Textile industry contributes to 20 per cent of global production waste. The fashion industry is arguably the top consumers of water. Landfills filled with discarded clothes, the emission of CO2 in millions of tons fostering the rise of global temperature, and contaminating our environment are evident today. Our oceans and seas are filled with micro-plastics and fibers, which create imbalances in the very food chain we humans are connected. Workers around the world- women, and children are operating in conditions so inhumane, are depraved and violated with low to unreal wages. Nevertheless, we continue supporting a horrible industry - one we aren’t aware of because of our desires and appetites for the fashion industry. An insatiable want for cutting-edge and discounted style has grown tremendously, which is not always necessarily a good and positive outlook for the environment. We are poisoning our environment, ourselves and our future generations.

Although the awareness and concern for environmental issues are growing, it may seem that people’s desire to act sustainably changes when alternatives (which are cheaper, fashionable) are present.

To maintain a sustainable and harmonious relationship, the government and its regulations, businesses, organizations, and individuals ought to participate in the sustainable development of the economy and the environment. Individuals’ responsibilities have significant impacts on both the green market and environment protection. To bring a shift in the fashion industry, companies must educate their consumers. Individuals and designers should be aware that, with the consumption pace we are currently following, we can’t cope up with the limited resources we have. With that understanding, the world will be able to follow on what we called “responsible consumerism”.

Acknowledging and comprehending that purchasing fewer fashion apparels of better qualities is the way forward, that by purchasing from a brand that protects humans, animals, and the environment, we can save our planet for us, our children, and our future. It is time to disrupt the industry to make our world a better place.

First Published: July 13, 2020, 2:11 p.m.