The last decade has been a time of increasing awareness of what we put in our bodies. We have woken up to the fact that many mass-produced fast foods and drinks are simply junk to our bodies. We hope that in this next decade, we will, likewise, wake up to the harm that fast fashion is causing.
To begin with, we think it is time we started to see fast fashion as the clothing equivalent of junk food. The Fast fashion industry pumps out junk clothing like McDonald’s churns out hamburgers. Fast fashion provides the means for us to fill our wardrobes with cheap clothing that promises to fulfil our desire to be fashionable. Much of this ‘junk clothing’ is made of cheaply produced material that is high in plastic and toxins. There is nothing of lasting value in these clothes, and our addiction to buying them is not sustainable or good for us or the planet. Therefore, isn’t it time we quit fast fashion for good?
Like junk food advertising, fast fashion advertising makes us crave their products by selling us on the idea that we need them. Fast fashion advertising has perfected the art of creating a desire for new clothing with each new fashion season. Fast fashion brands then meet this imaginary need with an endless supply of cheap, easy to buy clothing. In this way, the Fast fashion industry gets us addicted to buying junk clothing that gives little satisfaction past the initial rush of pleasure at purchase.
Fast fashion trends are decided by the big brands who have the marketing budget to ensure that consumers buy whatever they happen to have in stock that season. In this way the large fashion brands dictate what we wear, similar to how McDonalds or Burger King decided on the portion size of our junk food and drinks. Fashion should be an exciting adventure of discovering something a bit different to what everyone else has, instead of what is trending on Instagram.
While the fashion trends promoted by fast fashion brands are fleeting, the impact of our addiction to junk clothes lingers far longer. Our landfills are filling up with unwanted, almost new clothing. According to the EPA, the primary source of textiles in municipal solid waste (MSW) is discarded clothing; 16.9 million tons in 2017 alone. Worse, as many clothes are cheaply produced using synthetics derived from fossil fuels, they do not decay. Meaning mountains of unwanted clothing that is going to hang around our planet for a very long time.
Fast fashion brands make clothes with cheap fabrics that are only good to wear a few times. This strategy keeps production costs low and ensures consumers will need to buy more clothes as they wear out continually. The cheaply produced synthetic fabric slowly falls apart when washed, releasing microplastics into the water. These tiny particles of plastic make their way into our oceans and rivers, spreading plastic to the deepest parts of the oceans and the highest glacier peaks slowly poisoning our planet and all who live on it.
Junk clothing pollution is not limited to the microplastics that pollute the water. In order to ensure the latest on-trend colours, manufacturers often use toxic textile dyes which also flows into waterways, poisoning them. The fashion industry is now one of the world’s largest polluters of water.
Our addiction to fast fashion also comes at a substantial human cost. In order to keep prices low, fast fashion brands choose to use factories in developing nations, where garment workers work in dangerous working environments, for low wages and without fundamental human rights. These garment workers suffer daily for our insatiable demand for junk clothing in many ways, including working with toxic chemical dyes that have devastating impacts on their physical and mental health.
It is not only humans suffering from our addiction to junk clothing. High demand for animal products such as leather and fur, mean animal welfare is often ignored in the endless pursuit of fashion. A recent scandal highlighted that some faux fur produced in China might, in fact, be real cat fur. The factories supplying the ‘faux fur’ had made a commercial decision to use real fur as the cost was much cheaper than making faux fur.
The impacts of our addiction to junk clothing are hard to ignore. Therefore, we hope this will be the decade that we finally see how harmful fast fashion is for us and the planet. We think 2020 is the time to ditch the junk clothing addiction for good.
“Fashion fades, style is eternal.”Yves Saint Laurent