Every day, people (and even animals) wear clothes. The textiles that go into the fabrication of our garments, shoes, and accessories are often not as beautiful as they appear from their surface. I dove into the reality of textiles through a short investigation into the topic of today's fashion. Let's explore what's wrong with fashion today. This article will by far not cover everything and should be read as a first encounter with the wrongs of the fashion industry. There is much more to come in the near future. Please leave your thoughts in a comment below so I know what you think of it.
And the runner up in the category "most polluting industry" is...
FASHION. The $1.3 trillion industry has been doing more harm than good to the planet. Did you know that 60% of the textiles that are produced end up in clothes? This amount covers both the clothes that we purchase, as well as those that are produced but not sold. Up until recently, high end brands and main street retailers have been discarding the unsold clothes through incineration or landfilling the products. Given that the textiles are mostly not organic, the final product is not biodegradable (and definitely not compostable). This means that it's basically trash that the earth cannot take back.
Photo : Unsplash
We are +7 billion people on this planet. More than 40 million of us work in the fashion industry. The trends change every week and must be produced at a high speed to cater to the customers needs. This means, working overtime, in harmful conditions, for a low wage (sometimes this is not paid out). I am talking of course about the "closed kitchen" of fashion. However, the time to turn a blind eye to this reality is long gone. I say wake up and face reality. The more we know, the better informed our decisions and the easier it will be to make a change for good.
Loss of biodiversity, deforestation, global warming, air pollution, water contamination, are among the top threats our planet has come to deal with thanks to the malpractices deliberately executed by the fashion industry as an entirety. Not only the textiles that make our clothes are problematic with the sourcing from monocultures and chemicals used to dye a fabric into vibrant colours, but rather also the logistics to produce, ship, and return a garment have been bring forth major damages.
There is nothing wrong with economic prosperity. However, there is everything wrong with business being a win-lose game. When fashion is cheap, it is because someone else (who is not directly visible to the customer) is paying the higher price. This means that while the customer may be winning in buying a bargain, the people involved in the supply chain are losing. Today, more often than not, brands (even the new "sustainable" ones) are putting profit before planet and profit before people.
"I have nothing to wear"
Does this sentence sound familiar? I am quoting my 2018 self with this one. Boy, did I love to shop new looks. Writing this today is quite funny to me as I hardly recognise the joy it would give me. Now, I avoid shopping. My closet is filled with enough pieces to get me through all events I encounter in my daily life. Whenever I have an event for which I feel I do not have "the right attire" I have a short internal conversation that leads to the following conclusion: "Be creative and work with what you've got".
I have become super conscious about a garment's supply chain and if it is not transparent and eco-conscious, I walk away from the product. Despite the fact that the garment has already been made, I'm confident that if I and soon more people with me, will walk away, the brand will stop making this product. Not paying for garbage will gradually lead to no more producing garbage. It's a process with a long timeline, but I already see it working. (More and more shops are leaving their rental store spaces).
I guess what I want to share with you is that if I can change 180 degrees from being a fashion culprit to this overly conscious (#woke) human being that did not buy any textiles for almost a year, then so can you!
Are you ready to become a Responsible Fashion Rebel™?
Resources - websites
Resources - books
- Doughnut Economics
- Project Drawdown
- Fashion & Sustainability - Design for Change