Isn’t great that we have the opportunity to buy cheaper clothes nowadays? Discounts are everywhere and clothes seem to look trendy, compared with the previous decade. The fashion industry analyses public preferences and it is easier to predict what would be in trend in the next months. The truth behind the fast-fashion industry is quite tragic and without even noticing, it creates a harmful place to live in.
Investopedia defines fast-fashion as: “a term used to describe clothing designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet new trends. The collections are often based on designs presented at Fashion Week events. Fast fashion allows mainstream consumers to purchase trendy clothing at an affordable price.“
The average person buys 60% buys more clothes every year and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago. Zara, H&M, Pull&Bear, Forever 21, Primark, GAP, Stradivarius (and the list can go on) are some of the brands that are trying to make us buy more and more clothes, creating that so-called fast-fashion movement.
Have you ever wondered what is happening to our clothes after we throw them away? Many companies claim that a large amount is being recycled when the real percentage is 20 or even less. H&M recently introduced a new policy to reduce the pollution produced by their clothes. In reality, this is just greenwashing, a procedure done by many other famous companies. They are trying to persuade the public that their methods are eco-friendly and do not harm the environment. In fact, 81% of clothes are incinerated or sent to landfill, just in Europe. The fast-fashion trend created an industry in which people can hardly find the truth.
How many resources do we spend to make clothes?
The most used materials in our clothes are synthetics – a form of plastic that is threatening our Planet. Synthetic plastic fibers are polluting our oceans in a very subtle way: hundreds of thousands of tiny fibers are released when washing our clothes. Some of these fibers reach eventually the ocean waters. Most of the plastic found in the oceans is not in the form of whole products – but broken down shreds of plastic. Studies have found that 1 900 fibers come from a single piece of synthetic garment.
What if we use other fabrics? Let’s take cotton, for instance. To produce one cotton T-shirt, we need around 2,700 liters of water. In 2015 the fashion industry consumed 79 billion cubic meters of water. It is a shocking amount since our water resources are running down. It is expected that the amount of water used in this industry would increase by 50% by 2030.
“Made in Bangladesh”
If you bought clothes from Zara, Stradivarius, or Pull&Bear you would have already noticed the “Made in Bangladesh” tag. Many fashion industries are trying to find a cheap workforce to make their clothes. India, China, and Bangladesh are some of the countries in which people are working up to 14 hours a day to meet their targets. Most of them are women and children.
Many consider that these companies are creating jobs for unfortunate people. In reality, they are just making huge profits from their underpaid workers. For example, a garment factory helper’s wage starts at £25 a month. A sewing operator earns £32 a month, which is far below a living wage. Moreover, three-quarters of women are verbally abused and half of them are beaten.
Between 2006 and 2012 more than 500 garment workers died in factory fires. In 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapsed and killed 1 000 people and injured 2 500. But this tragic event did not change anything. People are still working in inhumane conditions.
What can we do to stop fast-fashion?
People can choose to buy fewer clothes, from sustainable brands that have a higher quality and keep them for a longer time. Recycling is another way to keep away pollution. But the most important question should be: “Do I really need these clothes?”