What happens to the clothes we don’t buy? You might think that the last season’s coats, trousers and turtle-necks end up being put to use. But as per Forbes, most of it, nearly 13 million tons each year in the United States alone, ends up in landfills. Fashion has a waste problem.
The influence of fast fashion spans continents. Well, there are huge humanitarian and environmental costs that are hidden by in an expensive price tag. There are many environmental damages caused by the mass production of cheap clothes. The phrase “Fast Fashion” is used as an umbrella term to describe the accelerated process of turning new design ideas into clothes on the retail floor. This ability to create trends quickly and to quickly change every item in their store to drum up hype about a new line of clothing is much like a fast food chain that is constantly changing its menu items in order to stay relevant. This not only tempts the consumers to buy new clothes but also means that the older items now quickly become irrelevant. This constant overconsumption has high environmental consequences.
On the supply side of the equation, most clothing is now made of a material called ‘polyester’ which is a petroleum-based fiber that requires large amounts of fossil fuels for manufacturing. According to Forbes, that number has now reached up to 70 million barrels of the year, and the rise of fast-fashion went hand-in-hand with the rise in polyester production. Now this, far outpaces the production of materials like cotton or wool and presents a major problem especially considering that polyester is a non-biodegradable substance. It can take anywhere from 20 to 200 years to degrade depending on the conditions. This is one of the leading causes of micro plastics in oceans because when washed, polyester clothing sheds fibers that then find their way into larger water streamers. Polyester is cheap for manufacturing large clothing and its able to do this because it offloads all of its expenses onto the environment.
Fast fashion also causes a lot of post-consumption hazards: Waste- An average clothing consumer ends up sending 81 pounds of textiles to landfill each year and this is partly because of the constant exposure to the marketing campaigns that tell you “Out with the old, in with the new”. Environmental harm cause by this new profit-centered industry is not at all reflected in the Price Tag. Fashion industry is now the eighth most polluting industry in this whole world in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for 92 million tons or 4% of the World’s Annual Solid Waste.
Considering this, there are a few better options than buying from fast fashion companies. Now, there are many transparent and ecologically sustainable fashion-based companies in India, which we all can choose to buy from. For example, Doodlage, a company that is armed with the mission to create zero waste. Doodlage makes use of leftover and discarded fabrics from large manufacturers. They also use ecofriendly materials like organic cotton, corn and banana fabric for their products. The brand constantly collaborates with organizations and NGOslike Goonj. They share excess fabrics from previous collections and the NGO creates reusable sanitary napkins out of them for women in rural areas. Such companies like Doodlage has proved thatwith a bit of creativity and conscience, fashion can support both the environment and the local communities.
To conclude, “Wear clothes until they wear out”. It isn’t a matter of money. It is a matter of practicing conscious spending of wealth and of not being wasteful.