Don’t deny it; we all love fast fashion. The extremely cheap and super cute clothes, along with all these promo codes, discounts, and free shipping? It sounds too good to be true. It doesn’t help that our favorite influencers are parading these trendy lines everywhere on social media. It’s always so tempting to purchase more brand-new clothes from fast fashion brands than we need – and I’m not telling you to stop completely. Fast fashion clothes are genuinely convenient, especially when you are on a budget. But similar to fast food, not everything that is convenient is good. While it is definitely challenging to break habits completely, I will try to explain why we should at least limit our fast fashion purchases. When I first read about these reasons, I was also super shook!
1.The fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, using 1.5 trillion liters of water annually (Source: Business Insider).
2. The fashion industry produces more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined (Source: Business Insider).
3. 85% of textiles go to the dump each year (Source: Business Insider).
4. Water waste from fast fashion goes to freshwater streams and pollutes rivers (Source: Manchester University Research).
5. 500,000 tons of microfibers, or an equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles, go to the ocean every year (Source: Impakter).
6. Fast fashion also enables forced and child labor in countries like Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam, among many others (Source: US Department of Labor Report).
7. More than 60% of fabric fibers are derived from fossil fuels, which means that they will not decay (Source: NY Times).
8. Thousands of factory workers die in factory fires because of the labor-intensive nature of the industry (Source: NY Times).
9. Textile dyeing is also the second-largest polluter of water (Source: World Economic Forum).
10. In total, fast fashion contributes to 20% of all industrial water pollution worldwide (Source: World Economic Forum).
Like I said, I am not saying that we should completely stop purchasing fast fashion, especially if that’s all where our budget can take us. However, there are many other alternatives like thrift shopping, renting clothes, or buying secondhand items. Since most thrift stores are closed because of the pandemic, I find it really convenient to buy nice and stylish secondhand clothes from online shops like ThredUp and Poshmark. Poshmark even allows for buying bundles so you can get more bang for your shipping buck. Since these are secondhand clothes, they are also way cheaper than their regular price.There are also numerous online shops on Instagram that sell pre-loved or secondhand clothes (I’ll be writing about my favorite Instagram thrift shops soon – so watch out!). Additionally, I’ve also recently taken an interest in renting clothes through companies like Rent the Runway and Gwynnie Bee.
Additionally, the past few years have seen a rise in the sustainable fashion niche in the industry. While all types of garments have some sort of harmful effects on the environment, numerous brands are working hard to alleviate some of these impacts.
The sustainable fashion niche, also dubbed as “slow fashion,” takes into account five aspects:
- Short Lifecycle. Compared to fast fashion that is intended for short-term use, sustainable brands aim to buy fewer items and utilize clothes longer. Thus, it is a priority for sustainable brands to promote used clothing or producing things that last longer.
- Waste Production. Another essential factor that needs to be considered is the amount of waste being produce. As such, sustainable brands have been leveraging upcycling materials or repairing old fabric in manufacturing new items.
- Resources Used. It is also vital for sustainable brands to be wary of their methods in propagating and harvesting the resources they use. Thus, it is crucial to consider the types of materials used, the types of chemicals applied to the garment, as well as the brand’s labor practices.
- Water Usage. The sustainable fashion niche is also looking into ways to conserve water or sustainably source water in the manufacturing process.
- Hazardous Chemicals. Lastly, as mentioned in the earlier part of this post, manufacturing cloths often entail the usage of hazardous chemicals. This can not only be dangerous to consumers, but also factory workers and the environment upon disposal of the clothes. As such, sustainable fashion brands are now developing innovations to optimize the manufacturing process without using these chemicals, such as harmful dyes.
I understand that it is challenging to completely stop purchasing clothing pieces from fast fashion brands. I, too, find it hard to avoid buying fast fashion clothes because of budget restrictions. It is definitely more expensive to buy items from sustainable fashion brands because of its niche manufacturing process and high-quality materials. However, if you’re looking to dip your toe into sustainable fashion brands, check out My Favorite Affordable Sustainable Fashion Brands for some suggestions.
Lastly, if you have any questions and comments about why we should limit our fast fashion purchases, please drop a comment, contact me, or slide into my DMs on Instagram.