What is your primary concern while shopping for your favorite outfit? Will this dress accent your shape? Will this color look great on you? But, have you ever thought about what toll your fast fashion obsession is taking on the planet? Are you polluting the environment just by wearing the most trendy cloth?
Today, coping up with the latest fashion drift has become an unspoken necessity. Irrespective of how many bags you own, the new collection will definitely lure you into buying a new one. But, who is truly bearing the brunt of today’s flourishing fast fashion industry?
Fast Fashion: The Promises of Sustainability
Today most of the brands present themselves as climate-conscious. For example:
- Levis’s “Give More. Take Less.” implies that you are saving the planet by wearing their denim
- H&M’s “conscious” fashion is providing a substantial discount in return for recyclable cloth
- Zara pledged to make its clothing fabric 100% sustainable by the end of 2025
- Prada asserts that they are using plastic in its nylon bag packs
- H&M claims that by the end of 2040, it will run its factories on 100% sustainable energy
- Levis avows that it will soon be cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the in-house facilities by 90%
In the year 2019, the search for ‘Sustainable Fashion’ shot up by 75%, and the brands found a new way of making more sales by obliging to the new sustainable fashion trend. Today, thousands of clothing and cosmetic companies facilitate a guilt-free, organic, ethical, vegan, eco-friendly, and recycled fashion.
The False Claims
But, the problem is that though these fashion houses claim to be climate change conscious, they do not clearly explain how their alternative materials are better for the environment.
For example, in the years 2019 alone, H&M over-produced $4.3 million worth of merch. In the light of climate consciousness, Chanel donated $35 million to install solar panels in California, while it continues to pollute the environment. Burberry, a self-proclaimed climate-conscious brand, destroyed $36.8 million cloth in 2018 alone.
According to the Europen Union Commission’s latest findings, 42% of all the sustainability claims by-merchandise brands are exaggerated, deceptive, or simply false. The high-end fashion houses are claiming to produce sustainable fashion but fail to explain how. Brands and the fast fashion industry are trying to greenwash the truth, i.e., fashion is, by nature, unsustainable.
Greenhouse Gas Emission: Not the only Concern
The fashion industry is a large-scale greenhouse gas emitter. It is responsible for 8-10% of all GHGs emissions and accounts for four percent of the total global waste.
But GHGs emission is not the only climate concern associated with today’s fast-fashion world. A single t-shirt alone consumes approximately 2,700 liters of water in the making. The production of one-kilogram cotton needs 20,000 Liters of water, which can only be used to produce one pair of jeans and one t-shirt.
The fashion industry uses approximately 93 billion cubic meters of water annually. In Uzbekistan, 50 years of relentless cotton farming has sucked up the Aral sea, which is a breathing example of the toll the fast fashion industry is taking on our planet. The contaminated water which is used for dying and in other cloth-manufacturing processes is then released into the river streams, adding more microplastic into the ocean.
The Vicious Cycle of Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is a threat to the environment. The five fashion seasons and new collections are attracting customers to buy more cloth than they need. Since the year 2000, cloth production has increased by double folds and so is the waste.
For example, in 2016, people bought 60% more cloth than in 2000, but these clothes were not kept for even half as long. Keeping up with the latest fashion is the new trend. One day neon is hot, the other day it is out of fashion, block heels were gone for a decade, and now everyone is wearing, and before you know, it will again be discarded.
But the same designs return in fashion. Every year old, discarded designs are back on ramps. The question is can we save our cloth, waiting for them to become trendy again? The answer is no because now, clothes are designed to tear.
According to estimates, three-fifth of all the garments end up in incinerators, just within a year of being made. Landfills are bombarded with 93 million tons of cloth waste every year, a huge section of which is burnt. Today, most of the fabric is polyester, which though cheap, is very polluting. It produces three times more carbon in production than cotton, but unlike eco-friendly cotton, it does not break down.
Fast Fashion: The Final Thought
Every day, thousands of Instagram posts and articles are schooling us on how to pair one cloth with others. The dress code for every event is different. And all this forms the basis of fast fashion’s business model, and they are crafted to lure you into buying more.
The fashion houses are flourishing and are estimated to grow exponentially in the coming years. Now, the governments are intervening to stop this crazy race to destroy the planet. Labs around the world are spending millions in creating truly sustainable fashion, but the fashion houses just won’t hit the breaks.
The fashion industry thrives on our insecurities. It makes us believe that repeating cloth is impolite, and only expensive bags, merch, and perfect shoes can make us likable. But, a lot of them are lying about being eco-friendly because it is their dirty, little trick, into fooling us towards a guilt-free shopping experience.