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Sunday, March 03, 2024

The lasting impacts of fast fashion


The detrimental environmental impact caused by the fashion industry is not a novel idea, yet recently, a rising number of consumers and companies have focused their attention on the role the fashion industry plays in our environment. 

Sustainability has become a buzzword in the fashion community, and consumers now use their purchasing power to create a cleaner environment through fashion choices. 

Though there has been a shift in focus on clean clothing initiatives, the state of the environment due to fast fashion is disheartening, and it’s going to take a lot more than buying a pair of recycled denim jeans to fix it. 

The “fast fashion” industry represents companies who make high volumes of clothes cheaply to keep up with constantly evolving demands for the newest styles. 

Companies such as Zara, H&M and Forever 21 are key players in the fast fashion industry and are responsible for unethical environmental practices in clothing production. Fast fashion, though convenient for consumers who want cheap trendy clothes, is putting the future of our planet at risk. 

The fashion industry, first in line after the oil industry, is the second largest polluter in the world responsible for the damage caused on our environment. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “it is predicted that the fashion industry will be responsible for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.” Though consumers’ constant buying habits add to the detriment of our environment, most of the issue lies in the hands of manufacturers and brands who overlook sustainable initiatives. 

Efforts such as the G7 Fashion Pact and the UN Sustainable Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action have made movement in the right direction towards an industry focused on preserving the earth. These agreements have been signed by over 150 companies including Nike, Adidas, Chanel, Nordstrom and even fast fashion culprit Zara. 

Though it’s going to take a copious amount of reform from fashion companies, we as consumers can impact the environment by making smart decisions on how and where we shop. 

Brands have shifted their focus to become more ethical, sustainable and environmentally conscious by standing against fast fashion practices. Outerknown, the sustainable clothing company created by surfer Kelly Slater creates “a future where clothing contributes to a world where people and planet prosper.” By working with partners offering fair wages, practicing sustainable production, and recognizing environmental impact, Outerknown is an exemplary sustainability-forward company. Other sustainably conscious companies include Levi’s, Reformation and Patagonia. 

Levi’s, a leader in both denim and apparel globally, has always been a leader at the forefront of environmental progress. By ethically sourcing cotton, reducing water usage and initiating eco-friendly denim recycling practices, Levi’s sets a high standard. Reformation does their part by creating timeless pieces that endure seasonal fads and trends, and creates products only from sustainable and upcycled materials in a fair waged environment. 

Reformation includes a description of the environmental footprint caused by each of their items. 

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Patagonia, one of the first companies to defend environmental ethics in fashion, continues to expand their commitment to the environment by using recycled material, organic cotton, and focusing on durable items built to last. 

Though the influences the fashion industry has on our environment will not go away overnight or improve when one or two large companies decide to change their negative environmental footprint, consumers have a say in who we buy from.  Considering ethical and environmentally conscious brands, that support slow fashion and sustainability can make a huge difference in the long run. 

The future of the earth is in our hands, and it’s up to us to buy responsibly. 

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