In the fast-paced world of fashion, where seasons and collections change at a dizzying speed, it's time to rethink our approach. Gone are the days when brands released just a few collections per year. Today, we find ourselves in a culture of mass co
nsumption and constant purchases fueled by hundreds of collections flooding the market annually. This phenomenon, known as "fast fashion," may seem enticing with its affordable prices and trendy styles, but its social and environmental impact is significant and far-reaching.
Fast fashion's rapid turnover of trends has led to the exploitation of workers in the garment industry. To reduce production costs, many brands outsource manufacturing to countries with weak labour regulations. This exploitative practice forces garment workers into deplorable conditions, subjecting them to long hours, hazardous environments, and poverty wages. Not only does this violate basic human rights, but it also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and inequality.
Furthermore, the fast fashion model promotes a culture of disposability, treating clothes as short-term trends rather than long-lasting investments. As consumers chase the latest styles, clothing items are worn only a few times before being discarded. This constant demand for new garments results in an enormous amount of textile waste.
It is estimated that there are enough clothes manufactured to clothe the next six generations on the planet today.
So, what happens to these clothes once the user "no longer finds joy in them"? Studies also show that the average number of wears per garment per individual has drastically changed in the last few decades. From 30 times per garment, this number has gone down to 5-7 wears per garment.
Most fast fashion items are made from synthetic fibers that do not biodegrade, contributing to approximately 20% of global wastewater and generating more greenhouse gas emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The linear fashion system, driven by fast fashion, is a formidable contributor to the environmental crisis we face today. It heavily relies on resource extraction, leading to pollution and generating staggering amounts of waste. From water-intensive cotton farming to the use of chemical dyes and synthetic fabrics, every step in the production process exerts immense pressure on our ecosystems, exacerbating climate change and depleting our finite resources. The consequences are dire: overflowing landfills, toxic pollutants seeping into our soil and water, and a climate teetering on the brink.
To combat the negative impacts of fast fashion and foster a more sustainable fashion industry, embracing circularity is imperative.
To effectively reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry in the next decade and align with the UN SDGs 2030 and commitments set by the Global Fashion Agenda, it is crucial to prioritize re-use, thrift, and safe disposal as central tenets of the circular fashion movement.
And to effectively embrace circular fashion, brands and manufacturers need to prioritize durable design and high-quality craftsmanship. This involves ensuring that garments are built to withstand multiple uses and washing cycles.
Renting and leasing models offer consumers access to fashion without permanent ownership, thereby reducing the demand for new items. Second-hand markets, consignment stores, and clothing swaps provide opportunities for individuals to actively promote the reuse and redistribution of pre-loved garments, giving them a second life.
Implementing closed-loop systems is a crucial step in transforming the fashion industry. Establishing effective collection and recycling infrastructure ensures that discarded garments are properly processed and turned into new materials. Collaboration between brands, consumers, and recycling facilities is essential for the success of these closed-loop systems, creating a sustainable and efficient cycle of garment production and disposal.
If you share our passion for sustainability and want to make a positive impact on the environment and society, I invite you to join us on this transformative journey with EcoDhaga. Whether you declutter your gently-loved clothes, shop from our thrift store, or spread awareness about the fashion industry's waste problem, your contribution matters. Together, let's revolutionize sustainable fashion and pave the way for a greener, more responsible future.