The concept of “fast fashion” refers to a phenomenon of mass production and consumption that increases at the same speed at which trends change. It has become an ever-growing global industry, but its impact on the environment is alarming. The practices to which this type of consumption leads us are unsustainable and affect our planet.
Between 2000 and 2015 alone, according to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation entitled “A New Textiles Economy”, the amount of manufactured apparel increased dramatically. In 2000, approximately 50 billion garments were produced, but after fifteen years, production doubled to over 100 billion garments.
FAST FASHION: USE AND THROW AWAY OR ACCUMULATE
Fast fashion has promoted a culture of mindless consumption, in which garments are manufactured quickly and cheaply to meet the demand for instant fashion. This “throwaway” mentality has led to a constant buying cycle, where people purchase more clothes than necessary and frequently replace their garments to keep up with the latest trends.
This generates an increase in the extraction of natural resources, such as water and raw materials, and greenhouse gas emissions during production. In addition, planned obsolescence is a strategy used by many fast fashion brands to make clothing quickly obsolete, forcing consumers to constantly buy new garments.
WASTE OF RESOURCES AND POLLUTION
First, the production of clothing requires enormous amounts of water. From cotton cultivation to the textile dyeing and finishing process, a large amount of H2O is used, which can result in the overexploitation of water sources. In addition, during textile dyeing, numerous chemicals are used that pollute the water and pose a risk to aquatic ecosystems and human health.
In addition to water, fast fashion production consumes a large amount of energy, mainly from fossil fuels. This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which are directly related to climate change and global warming. From the transportation of raw materials to the manufacture and distribution of garments, polluting emissions are generated, contributing to environmental deterioration.
Fast fashion also generates a large amount of textile waste. Due to the ephemeral fashion cycle and the promotion of impulsive consumption, many garments are quickly discarded, ending up in landfills. Synthetic materials, such as polyester, take centuries to decompose, exacerbating the long-term waste problem. Even garments made of cotton and other natural materials generate significant waste during production, from intensive water use to the generation of waste in the form of offcuts and unused fabrics.
ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE FASHION
Fortunately, more sustainable alternatives have emerged in the fashion industry. Ethical fashion focuses on producing quality garments, using sustainable materials, and respecting workers’ rights. They adopt transparent and ethical practices at all stages of the supply chain, ensuring that working conditions are fair and safe.
In addition, local production is promoted and the use of organic and recycled fabrics is encouraged. These brands strive to create durable and timeless garments that can be worn for a long time and do not quickly become obsolete. Ethical fashion is also concerned with the traceability of the materials used, to ensure that they come from sustainable sources and do not contribute to environmental degradation.
CLOTHING RECYCLING AND CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Another alternative is to recycle clothing. Instead of discarding used garments, they can be collected, sorted, and recycled into new materials. Some brands have implemented clothing collection and recycling programs, converting old garments into new products or raw materials. This helps reduce the demand for new resources and reduces the amount of textile waste in landfills.
Apparel recycling may involve processes such as disassembly of garments, reprocessing of textile fibers, or transformation into new products. In addition, the circular economy focuses on the reuse and repair of garments, extending their useful life and reducing the need for new fashion production. Clothing exchanges and thrift stores are also part of the circular economy by encouraging the purchase and sale of used clothing.
As consumers, we can contribute to change by choosing responsible brands, reducing our consumption, and making the most of the clothes we already own. The transition to a more sustainable fashion industry is essential to protect our environment and preserve natural resources for future generations. Together we can promote positive change in the fashion industry and create a more sustainable future.