I wrote a similar piece for the Huffington post once, and I think it’s an important question, especially for consumers who are only just starting to question the ethics behind the brands.
So, I guess the first point to cover is what is ‘fast fashion’? Essentially its cheaply made garments that are there to be worn once and then discarded. Cheaply made means they are definitely not meant to last the test of time.
We see it every day on our high streets, we are confronted weekly, if not daily by new designs. Fleeting trends that we’re told we can’t live without. They are being blasted through factories and into stores in a blink of an eye.
In fact buying garments on the high street is cheaper now than it has ever been. We own on average four times the number of clothes we would have in 1980 and the way we shop has changed. Instead of building a relationship with the garments we own, we accept them as disposable items that we have no connection to.
What does this mean for our planet?
Well, what happens to all these garments? It is estimated that there are 100 billion garments produced each year, and of that approximately 92 million tonnes end up in landfills. “To put things in perspective, this means that the equivalent of a rubbish truck full of clothes ends up on landfill sites every second”.
What about the human impact?
It is estimated there are approximately 40 million garment workers and approximately 30 million home workers, powering the fast fashion retailers. Many of these workers are earning just half of what they need to meet a living wage. In addition to this, the ‘Shop till they drop’ report states that 33% of garment workers are medically underweight, 25% seriously so (source). Garment workers have essentially become the inconvenient truth of fast fashion that no one wants to acknowledge.
Whether it’s the human impact or the environment, fast fashion has become synonymous with exploitation, and it’s time we hold the retail giants to account. The ‘throwaway culture’ that corporations have created in retail is detrimental to this planet. We have come a long way from quality manufacturing and timeless pieces made to last, but as the ethical movement grows could things be changing?