It is becoming harder and harder for us to love our clothes and wear them the way we once did when we are being faced with more insights into the way in which they are being made and produced. Fast fashion is becoming an increasingly worrisome problem, as the industry focuses on speed and costs rather than the environment and those working in the factories.
Pressure is on these companies to reduce costs and the time it takes to manufacture items of clothing meaning that corners are being cut in the process. Many criticisms of fast fashion come from the negative impact that it has on the environment, with water pollution, toxic chemicals and increasing amounts of textile waste. But, with so much pressure being piled on them, how can they change their ways to benefit the environment?
Why Is Fast Fashion So Damaging?
Prints, vibrant colours and fabrics are all major appealing features of most fashion garments today, yet so many of these effects are achieved through the use of toxic chemicals. The dyes used to colour textiles is the second largest water polluter globally, behind only agriculture. A recent campaign by Greenpeace has been instrumental in the way in which fast fashion brands are now taking action in removing toxic chemicals from their supply chains. A lot of these chemicals have been banned or strictly monitored in countries because they are highly toxic and disruptive to living organisms.
Polyester, which is the most popular fabric used by fast fashion brands. But, when these polyester garments are washed in washing machines, tiny microfibres come loose and end up adding to the increasing levels of plastic in our waterways. These microfibres are so minute that they easily pass through water treatment plants and, because they do not biodegrade, they also pose a serious threat to aquatic life.
A Hunger For New Things
Textile waste is a wholly unintended and unexpected consequence which came as the result of the rise in fast fashion. With more people buying more clothes and with these clothes not lasting for as long as they used to, the amount of waste products and clothing is an issue on a global. In developed countries, wardrobes are saturated so, in order for fast fashion companies to sell more clothes, they must entice shoppers with new items.
This increase in disposable clothing means that there is a lesser need for shoppers to mend and make do and it is often more convenient to buy new items than it is to have them repaired. Thankfully, there is interest in a new model of textile production, which looks to reuse and recycle materials wherever possible. However, current textile recycling levels are low and, despite a nation-wide network of charity shops and an increase of recycling points, over three-quarters of the UK just throw away their unwanted clothing.
What Can Shoppers Do?
As shoppers, can we help the environmental impact of fast fashion? There are ways that shoppers can choose eco-friendly fabrics, but there are pros and cons to different fibre types. Some garments, which are labelled as being made of natural fibres, are not always better than synthetic fibres, but fibres only may up one part of a complex cycle.
Fibres need to be woven, knitted or spun and then dyed, sewn and finished to create the final piece, all of which have an impact upon the environment. Choosing organic fabrics is better than choosing fabrics which aren’t
Fibres need to be woven, knitted or spun and then dyed, sewn and finished to create the final piece, all of which have an impact upon the environment. Choosing organic fabrics is better than choosing fabrics which aren’t organic, but organic materials still require the use of high amounts of water.
Here at Laura Zabo, we take pride in our mission to transform the fashion industry. Zabo saves thousands of tires and inner tubes from entering landfill systems by upcycling them and transforming them into fashion accessories. Brands must also look to find creative and imaginative solutions to combat the growing amount of waste on our planet.
Wish Upon A Sparkle have transformed the way in which they create their glitter, by making it from cellulose which is completely compostable and breaks down naturally after use. Glitter is part of the microplastic family and, like polyester fibres, can easily be washed into our waterways. Mud Jeans focus on their mission to make everyone's wardrobe staple as ethical and sustainable as possible. They make new pairs of jeans out of recycled ones by shredding and blending them together with cotton to make new yarn which is then made into new pairs.
All in all, the best that shoppers and brands can do is to buy smarter, care and repair items where necessary and keep using our clothing for longer.
by Natalie Wilson @natwilson976.