Fast Fashion: How Do My Clothes Affect the Planet?

When we buy new clothes, we are guided by fashion trends, if we look good or if the prices seem affordable. Very rarely do we buy our clothes thinking about where and how it was produced, if it affects the environment in any way or if it was manufactured, respecting workers’ rights, and paying fair wages. Fast fashion is at the forefront of fashion and provides low prices that make it accessible to many people. However, there is a history of environmental damage and social injustice that big brands are not telling us!

The Fashion Industry Contributes 10% of Global Emissions.

Life Beyond Plastics: How Fashion is Killing Our Rivers

The fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world, only behind the oil company. What is this about? To an accelerated and massive production of garments linked to overconsumption, fueled by the trends and new collections that appear every year. In other words, the big fast fashion brands use market strategies to keep us buying and consuming non-stop, and they can maximize their profits. An example of this is perceived obsolescence, which implies leading consumers to think that a product is obsolete, even if it is still functional, just because it does not comply with the fashion or dominant trend. This leads us to the fact that even though we already have two black skirts in perfect condition, we want to buy a new one just because that new design is in fashion. This excess consumption of products leads to environmental impacts such as:

  • Greater extraction of natural resources to continue manufacturing new garments and meet demand adds greenhouse gas emissions during the extraction of raw material, manufacturing, transportation, and product disposal. The UN indicates that the fashion industry contributes 10% of global emissions.

  • Extensive Water Pollution:  According to Greenpeace, the textile industry is one of the largest users of hazardous chemicals and one of the industries that pollute the most freshwater globally. Our garments’ production is behind multicolored rivers due to the spillage of water contaminated by the dyeing processes; the spilled substances are possible carcinogens and hormonal disruptors that can harm nearby communities’ health.

  • Release of Microplastics and Microfibers Into the Environment: Many of our garments are made from various plastic types. When they are washed, they can shed microplastics into our water bodies; the same happens with other synthetic or organic materials released as microfibers. According to research from the University of Toronto, a single pair of jeans sheds an average of 56,000 microfibers per wash cycle, and this massive amount of microscopic dirt seems to accumulate in the Arctic. Whenever a garment is washed, a small amount of lint is spilled and comes off with the clothes.

  • A Large Generation of Waste: In the last 15 years, the number of times we wear our garments again has fallen by 36%. That means that we reuse our clothes less and less. Motivated by changes in trends and new collections, many people overconsume low-quality garments that will quickly go out of style and be discarded when the new season arrives. According to this are the low recycling percentages, in Mexico of only 5% according to CEMDA data, nearly 80% of discarded clothing ends up in landfills or incinerated.Why Sustainable Fashion is the Only Way - SustyVibes

These data show that the clothes we wear are indeed harming the planet, in addition to the fact that many fast fashion brands sell garments produced by cheap labor from exploited people, including boys and girls, in developing countries. Every time you find a bargain at the mall, this low price reflects the fair wages that brands are not paying workers as well as the environmental damage that companies do and do not do.

Therefore, now that the Good End is coming and a time of excessive consumption begins (Black Friday, Christmas, Three Kings Day, etc.), try to look for clothes without this broad environmental and social footprint:

  • Who said we need new clothes to dress in style? Buying second-hand clothes is an excellent option to keep clothes in use and prevent them from reaching landfills;

  • If you have possibilities, look for Mexican brands of sustainable clothing, which offer carefully manufactured garments to reduce their environmental impacts and also are of higher quality and will last much longer;

  • Exchange, donate and give someone else the clothes you no longer want to have in your closet. You can exchange with your friends and family, donate clothes to organizations (of girls and boys, migrants, women) that need them, or look for online ventures that create barter and exchange communities;

  • Repair or renew the clothes you already have so that you can give them a new life. What is no longer useful to you will undoubtedly help someone else and be good for our planet.

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