Fast fashion is the practice of producing cheaply made clothing as quickly as possible, usually at the expense of garment workers, or the environment.
This encourages customers to buy low quality products in large amounts.
Most often the brands promoting fast fashion are probably places you have probably shopped at already including Forever 21, Fashion Nova and Zaful.
These brands copy the styles that luxury brands are making and
mass produce the clothing and products at a faster, and cheaper rate,
that is harmful for the environment and the workers that make them.
-The fashion industry is the worlds 2nd biggest source of pollution, behind oil.
-5% of the worlds CO2 emissions are created by the fashion industry (beating out air travel and shipping)
-63% of clothes are currently made from plastic fibers ( and that number is projected to grow)
-Most garment workers are not paid a livable wage and are subject to unsafe and abusive working conditions
-The average American throws away 85lbs of clothing each year
-Most of your donated clothing is not going to people in need, its going to a landfill
-It would take 12 years to recycle the amount of clothing the fast fashion industry creates in 48 hours.
-Cotton fabrics may not be any better than synthetic fabrics
Most of the fabrics used in the fashion industry have some blend of nylon and/or polyester (even cotton products). Synthetic fabrics were created in the mid 1900s and boomed in popularity because of their ability to stretch.
You may know these fabrics as nylon, spandex, polyester, viscose, and rayon. These fibers are created from crude oil which lets off large amount of CO2 emissions during the production process. These fibers are non biodegradable and will not break down naturally. Some of the higher quality fabrics can be recycled,
but most of the fast fashion giants are creating fibers with such low quality
that it is impossible to recycle them into new fabric.
Here at Sundaze Bikinis, we use the highest quality recycled nylon fabric.
Not only has it been recycled previously from fishnets,
carpets and fabric scraps, but it can be recycled again into new fabric.
Some people believe that because cotton is a natural fiber,
that it is better for the environment, but they couldn't be more wrong.
Cotton is one of the most resource intensive crops out there and uses a large amount of water and pesticides to produce. The average cotton t shirt needs about 713 gallons of water fo be produced which is the equivalent to about 30 bathtubs. The cotton industry uses more pesticides and insecticides than any other crop in the world, which can harm the health of the workers at the farms as well as the ecosystem around it.
From there it is spun into yarn and cloth and dyed with dyes that are usually toxic and end up in waste waters and the ocean.
Just like with synthetic fibers, most fast fashion companies are creating fabric that is so low quality that it cannot be recycled into new clothing. Companies that have tried to recycle the fibers still have to mix it with new cotton and the result is a fabric that is so low quality that it tears easily.
Here's an informative video created by TEDed that
shows the lifecycle of a basic cotton t shirt.
Only 2% of the garment worker population make a livable wage. The other 98% of workers are forced to work 10-14 hour days with no overtime and unrealistic expectations.
Most clothing is made in 3rd world countries where there are no laws on child labor. Many children in these countries are forced into garment factories instead of schools, to help support their families.
Most of these factories have no laws on workers rights or safety. 85% of the works in the garment industry are women who are subject to mental, physical and sexual abuse. The buildings are old with no fire exits, so building collapses and factory fires are frequent and fatal.
Just because it is made in the US, does not mean that it is ethically made. Factories in the US still have to compete with the low cost of goods coming from Asia. To do this, there are many factories across the US where undocumented workers are hired, because their working conditions and pay is unregulated and the factories can take advantage of them.
Fast Fashion is not made to last. Americans throw away 25 Billion pounds of clothing waste each year, and 85% of that waste will go to a landfill. Once in the landfill, the clothing will not break down, instead the toxins will seep into the earth, and the plastic microfibers will be picked up by animals, streams, and oceans, further polluting the planet. Only 1% of clothing is actually recycled, because most of our technology for recycling fabric is decades away from recycling at the speed that we are producing clothing. Most of the clothing the fast fashion industry is producing is not high enough quality to survive being recycled in the first place.
Most fast fashion clothing that is donated to charities will end up getting thrown away because we are throwing away the clothes faster than people need them, and the clothes being donated are often damaged, or not high enough quality to be used again.
All of this is pretty depressing, but don't worry you can make a difference! Educate yourself in the process of creating these garments and decide what is actually a fair price to be paying. Support companies with higher ethical standards. Buy high quality clothing that will last a long time. Lastly petition to your local government to enforce higher standards for the fashion industry. If you have any other ideas on ways to help, comment them below!