Earlier, I talked about the origin story of fast fashion and why it exists in the first place. I will write more about how we can reject it in our personal lives as well as identifying the ways consumerism has colonized our way of thinking.
You may have noticed that I didn’t address WHY fast fashion is a problem. The reason for that is because there was simply too much to go over in that single post. It needs its own post, unfortunately.
That all said, let’s get to the bad feelings!
Fast Fashion Exploits Its Workers — Men, Women and Children
In order to reach the deadlines of the latest trend, fast fashion demands incredibly fast production times. Sweatshops are infamously tied to fast fashion. While we all know this, big brands continually deny and play dumb to this fact.
We know that these factories will cut corners when it comes to the safety of their workers. We can recall devastating and fatal factory fires in the news.
Some factories even have to take precautions to prevent suicide attempts by workers. These are preventable deaths.
Sweatshops pay their workers very little and demand long shifts. There are cases where workers just live in the factory because of such long shifts. Women can expect no maternity leave. Children often lie about their age and are not properly screened (if at all) to work these jobs.
To continue making matters worse, workers are exposed to carcinogens and toxins all day and face unknown health risks in their future.
All this and workers are continually sabotaged and prevented by their employers from forming any unions to advocate for their rights.
Fast Fashion Exploits the Earth for Its Resources.
The textile dyeing industry is the second largest polluter after animal agriculture. Think about it- the textile industry alone emits more greenhouse gas than international shipping and aviation combined.
With such big and scary statistics, it can be hard to even wrap your head around it. So let’s narrow our focus on two fabrics that are particularly devastating:
Cotton production is abundant with pesticide and toxin use, and produces a ton of chemical waste into the environment. That is why there is strong advocacy for organic cotton.
Even worse is polyester. Polyester is incredibly cheap to produce, just as wasteful and large a pollutant.
It outweighs cotton and wool in production rate. In fact, we go through 70 million barrels of oil a year to make polyester production possible. It is not biodegradable and is the leading cause of micro plastics.
Micro plastics are small fragments of plastic released into the environment. In clothing (especially polyester), micro plastics break up and escape into the air we all breathe as well as our landscape.
Scientists are seeing these plastics in our fish, animals and oceans in distressing amounts. We still do not know what the long term effects of these plastics are.
This all serious, upsetting information that can easily drive someone to apathy and learned helplessness. This is a systematic, global problem. After all, 100 corporations are named responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions.
This is not directly the fault of every individual. For more thoughts on this, I’ll write about how we’re all trained to be good consumers here.
That said, we need to do our part in seeking a change in culture. There is hope for major industry reform.
Educating ourselves, sharing this information, and voting is part of that solution.
Don’t know what to do next? Stay tuned for some thoughts on about how to reject fast fashion in your personal life.