Conversations about fashion sustainability usually center on new materials, zero-waste design, or the idea that we can consume our way out of the climate catastrophe. However, as the dialogue progresses, a growing number of individuals are wondering, “Why don’t brands just manufacture less stuff?” Over-consumption has been a problem for a long time and is usually the least addressed topic. We are going for greener fabrics, vegan leather, but not over-production issues.
While exact figures are tough to get, it is estimated that between 80 and 150 billion pieces of clothing are created and sold each year. The biggest culprit is, of course, fast fashion, and unfortunately, many of these pieces end in landfills.
To minimize greenhouse gas emissions, reduce clothing waste, and alleviate environmental deterioration, fashion must eliminate chronic overproduction – and, by extension, over-consumption. As flashy and amazing as all of these environmental technologies and projects are, there’s just no other way to do it. This should be by far the main concern for all fashion producers.
Why does fashion overproduce?
Because technology has reduced the cost of fashion production and allowed consumers to shop for deals on the internet, firms strive to deliver the fastest, cheapest, and most convenient service to satisfy their customers. The only way for a fashion company to earn from this business model is to produce and sell millions of products.
How Can De-Growth Be Used in the Fashion Industry?
De-growth is an economic strategy that focuses on reducing consumption and production; while it is a very complex part of limiting over-production, it is reliable.
It would save energy and minimize the number of materials we use, allowing us to focus our efforts on establishing a more equal and healthy society. Although it may not appear that fashion can exist inside this system, our relationship with fashion would improve if we were not subjected to the fashion industry’s pressure.
It is not only the role of the producers; consumers, governments, and businesses will need to work together to accomplish a significant transformation from a consumption-driven to a degrowth economy.
The Countries Already Pursuing DeGrowth
It is crucial to have government support to have a true change in these situations. Legislative action is critical to any substantial systemic change; if governments continue to provide tax benefits and subsidies to fashion firms, they will remain lucrative. More government intervention, both positive and punishing, is required.
Laws will help to ease over-production. This included tax reform to reward companies that produce clothing with a lower environmental impact. This proposed virgin plastic tax would include polyester, taxing brands a penny per garment produced to fund sorting and recycling infrastructure, and prohibiting the incineration and landfilling of unsold stock that could be reused or recycled.
What Can You Do?
These solutions can feel abstract and out of our grasp to the common customer. It’s easier to apply it to yourself as an individual than to consider the country as a whole. You may want to start to think on a smaller scale. Think about actions that you can start within your home; for example, limit your purchase from fast-fashion producers. Then you can bring ideas to your community and grow accordingly.
One thing is certain: fashion cannot continue to produce apparel at its current rate. De-growth provides a framework for moving away from our growth-driven economy. Still, its success is dependent on international cooperation, individual action, government and business accountability, and a sense of urgency.
We all must work toward sustainability together to make the world greener. Share with us in the comments what are the ways to diminish overproduction…