Fast fashion—it’s not about the clicking heels and high-speed energy that defines New York’s fashion district. It is, however, a term that’s about capturing that catwalk lightning in a bottle. In other words, fast fashion refers to mass-producing trends at inexpensive prices in order to get garments into consumers’ hands as quickly as possible.
Seems like a pretty good deal, right? That is, until you think about its devastating ecological consequences. Sorry to be a Debby Downer, but I know you care more about the world—and about people in developing nations—more than you do the must-have cold shoulder style of the month. Fast fashion is a toxic, dangerous business that not only wreaks havoc on the environment, but also regularly exploits field laborers and endangers factory workers.
Here are 3 ways fast fashion is killing our planet:
- Fast fashion is depleting the world’s water supply.
Take a look at your wardrobe—how much of it is made with cotton? Or at least a certain percent cotton? Odds are, the majority. Cotton is one of the world’s thirstiest crops. In fact, a full-sized cotton boll that can hold 27 times its own weight in water, and it takes 2,700 liters of water to make just one cotton shirt. So why does that matter? In developing countries like India 100 million people don’t have access to safe water, yet their economy depends on cotton. Talk about a Catch 22.
- Fast fashion is filling the world’s landfills.
The average American throws away 80 pounds of clothing each year. Yep, not donate it, not sell it, not repurpose it—but toss in the garbage can. Fast fashion and its cheap, disposable nature is to blame, because it’s made to satisfy fleeting trends, not last a lifetime. And, of the 80 billion poorly made fast-fashion garments churned out each year, many are made from synthetic fabric fibers—this means that when they end up in said landfills, they’ll just sit there for up to 200 years.
- Fast fashion is polluting the world’s air.
I’m sure many of you reading try to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible, whether that’s by biking to work or carpooling whenever possible. But did you know that your fast fashion buying habits are just as, if not more, emissions intensive? In fact, making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car for more than 80 miles. So, the next time you want to scoop up a pair of cheap jeans, you might think about how it basically just cancelled out your weekly bicycle commute to and from work.
While fast fashion–land may be all gloom and doom, the good news is that there are apparel companies like Pact who are doing everything they can to prevent environmental damage. And it’s not just in their organic cotton use, but also in their wind- and solar-powered server farm operations, sustainable shipping practices, biodegradable packaging progress, and Give Back. Wear Forward. Program. Pact is the antithesis of fast fashion. And I appreciate that.
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