Fast Fashion: The Paradox of Rationality

Buying less can also make a difference.

While shopping, have you ever thought that buying a little less can save the earth? Probably not. I hadn’t too before I came across a term called ‘fast fashion’. Many of you might even know about it because it is all over the internet.

What is fast fashion?

Fast Fashion, as the name suggests is fast. It is basically a contemporary term used to describe clothing designs that move quickly from catwalk to stores, to capture current fashion trends at extremely affordable prices. The idea behind this is to get the newest styles on the market as soon as possible, so that shoppers can wear them when they are popular and then, sadly, discard them.

In today’s generation, outfit repeating has become a fashion faux pas and if you want to stay relevant, you have to sport the latest looks as they happen. Fast fashion plays a key role in the toxic system of overproduction and over-consumption which has made the fashion industry, one of the largest polluters of the world.

What impact does it have?

Fast fashion has a HUGE environmental impact. The pressure to reduce costs and speed up production time means that the environmental aspects are more likely to be ignored. Its negative impact includes use of cheap, toxic textile dyes-making the fashion industry the second largest polluter of clean water.

Did you know that one pair of jeans equals to the amount of water a person drinks in 10 years? Yeah, now go count the number of pair of jeans you have.

Polyester is the most popular fabric used in the fashion industry. But when polyester garments are washed in domestic washing machines, they shed microfibres that add to the increasing levels of plastic in our oceans. These microfibres are minute and can easily pass through sewage and wastewater treatment plants into our waterways, but because they do not biodegrade, they represent a serious threat to aquatic life. Did you know that Polyester can take up to 200 years to decompose?

Clothing and textiles production releases 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases every year – that’s more than the combined emissions for all international flights AND shipping.

Finally, fast fashion can impact consumers themselves, encouraging the ‘throw-away’ culture because of the speed at which trends are produced. Fast fashion makes us believe that we need to shop more and more to stay on top of trends, creating a sense of need.

I can go on about this forever, but I think you got what I’m trying to say – we need to act fast, because if this keeps going, soon we might have laws about how much we can shop!

Ever wondered what happens to the clothes you throw away?

You may be buying a lot of clothes, and you also may be discarding a lot of them to make room for the new ones. Ever wondered where did all those old clothes go? Well, they find themselves in landfills. When you toss your clothes and throw them away, chances are that they may be sitting in landfills for many many years! 

Textile waste is an unintended consequence of fast fashion, as more people buy more clothes and don’t keep them as long as they used to. Wardrobes in most nations are saturated and in order to sell their products, retailers tempt the shoppers with constant newness and convince them that the clothes they already have are no longer fashionable.

The speed at which garments are produced also means that more and more clothes are disposed off by consumers, creating a huge amount of textile waste. “It is estimated that more than 1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year, with most of this coming from household sources.”, said the first article I opened on Google about this.

And if that’s not alarming enough, check this out: One garbage truck of clothing and textiles is sent to landfill or burned every second, while just 1% of clothing is recycled into new clothing, according to Ellen Macarthur Foundation.

What can we do?

So perhaps, now you’re convinced that something needs to change in the way that the fashion industry operates. Unfortunately, that’s extremely hard to do. What we can do is change our behaviour as consumers. Here are 7 easy steps that you can take to become a conscious buyer and help fight fast fashion.

  • Buy less.

If there’s a change you can make, this should be at the top of your list. Don’t buy something unless you truly need it. Trust me, I learnt it the hard way.

  • Take the 30-day wear pledge

Emma Watson endorses the 30-wear promise. Before you buy something, ask yourself: “Will I wear it a minimum of 30 times?”. You may be surprised at how often the answer is no. But if the answer is yes, then buy it and enjoy!

  • Shop form ethical/sustainable brands

Ethical fashion often does cost more; this reflects the true cost of using materials that are less damaging to the planet, made in factories that are safe to work in, have better eco-credentials and pay fairer wages to their employees. But it doesn’t have to cost a crazy amount more. Sustainable brands are all the rage on Instagram. Retailers such as H&M are focusing on the long term and looking at solutions to reduce their environmental footprint.

  • Choose quality over quantity

If you’re going to buy something, buy it to last. You will get the most value for your money and reduce the frequency at which you need to replace your clothes.

  •  Buy basic staples, not trend-driven.

 It might be fun to dress with the current trends, but they’ll go out of style the next week and you won’t wear it again. Instead, build a wardrobe with more basic staples that you can get a lot of wear out of, and just a handful of trendier pieces.

  • Recycle your clothes yourself

If you really don’t want them and can’t sell or give them away, get creative and find a way to continue using them. Perhaps you can turn that old pair of jeans into a re-usable shopping bag, or that cotton tee into re-usable makeup remover wipes. The possibilities are endless! I’ll talk about some of them in my posts soon.

  • Give into slow fashion

Slow fashion is a movement towards mindful manufacturing, fair labour rights, natural materials, and lasting garments. Conscious fashion means there are brands, communities, and individuals who are fighting for the safety of our earth and fellow humans. And that’s why I signed up for slow fashion season.

I’m not asking you to not buy at all, I’m asking you to buy mindfully.

Stay tuned for more!

Do checkout my other posts and like, share and subscribe!

Stay safe and be kind!

7 thoughts on “Fast Fashion: The Paradox of Rationality

  1. Hi Arshia,

    Thank you for stopping by FunSizeFit, and for following my blog! It’s definitely painful to think about the waste generated by fast fashion. I think the key, which you touched upon, is being mindful about our purchases. We should try to purchase less, and if we are going to purchase from a fast fashion brand, it should be pieces that we’re going to keep and wear again and again.

    – FunSizeFit

    Liked by 1 person

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