Did you know that fast fashion is the world's second biggest pollutant next to coal? The average consumer shops at brands like H&M, Forever21, and Zara because the clothes are in style, and the costs are low. But perhaps what you didn't know about these products, is that the convenience you opt for, has a price. Unfortunately, our purchasing habits as a society are affecting our precious planet, the people in it and our personal health!
Fast fashion significantly contributes to green house emissions because the materials used are often micro-plastics, and synthetic chemicals and dyes. Did you know the average person throws away 46 pounds of clothes per year? The fashion industry accounts for 10% of the world’s total carbon footprint. And what about your favorite pair of jeans? Well, consider this: almost 2000 gallons are required to grow enough cotton for one pair of jeans,. In fact, the fashion industry is one of the largest consumers of water in the world consuming up to 9 trillion liters of water a year. Manufacturing textiles are responsible for 25% of chemicals used worldwide. Not only are we polluting our precious oceans with harmful chemical dyes that affect our eco-system, but we do so completely unaware that the cute t-shirts and pairs of jeans we buy today may be the cause of our grandchildren's health problems later on. It is time for us to do something while we still have a chance.
Let's not even get started on the effects of fast fashion on people around the globe! The documentary True Cost, gives us an insider look on what goes on in textile plants around the globe. The premise of globalization was that it would benefit the whole planet. Developed countries could make materials cheaply and quickly while developing countries were given jobs with living wages. But it is far from the truth. People who work in these plants work in horrifying conditions where they work long hours, and make at the most, three dollars a day. Unfortunately, there are no regulations in place to protect them. The companies who outsource their manufacturing are aware of the problem, and turn a blind eye because the bottom line is what matters most to them. Instead of changing their practices, some of them are coming out with green sustainable fashion lines. But if they're not tending to the problem at the root, they are simply putting a band aid on a problem they have created themselves. This is called greenwashing; the practice of employing greener initiatives to appease the public, or to protect a brand.
Not only is fast fashion hurting our planet, but it's also affecting our health. Nonylphenol is an endocrine disruptor chemical , one of many chemicals that are found in our clothes! Although it has been banned in the European Union and Canada in detergents, it is not banned from our imported clothing and textiles. This chemical remains in our clothes and only comes out after a few washes. It is also estimated that around 1900 individual micro-plastic fibers can be washed off a single piece of clothing, and find their way into our oceans. Micro-plastics are also a problem. They are finding their way into our diet through micro-planktons who mistake them for food. Some of those plastics are made of chemicals harmful to humans which cause serious health side effects, or even terminal illnesses. Another health hazard is the fact that the fashion industry produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions - more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Polyester is also another culprit. It is the most popular fabric used for fashion. But when polyester garments are washed in domestic washing machines, they shed micro-fibres that add to the increasing levels of plastic in our oceans. These micro-fibres are minute and can easily pass through sewage and wastewater treatment plants into our waterways, but because they do not biodegrade, they represent a serious threat to aquatic life.
So what can you do to protect the planet, its people and your own personal health?
Here are a few suggestions from our team:
1) Create a capsule wardrobe (free of dyes)
3) Online thrifting on websites like Poshmark
4) Sustainable brands
5) Donating clothes
6) The 30 wears principle
7) Community clothes swapping parties