After the oil industry, textiles are the second largest contributor to waste and pollution. From material sourcing to manufacturing, garment production equates to copious factory runoff into local waterways, toxic chemicals introduced into the environment, and unused materials that are tossed aside. .
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Fast fashion is a big culprit here. What were once seasonal trends have now shifted to weekly trends. This means that last week’s favorites are this week’s disposals. Even when we donate clothes, they often end up in landfill, sometimes after being shipped halfway around the world.
Related: Upcycled Clothing Collection Inspires to Break the Pattern
Defined by clothes worn for a brief cycle and then discarded, fast fashion leaves a deep wound on the planet. From start to finish, it’s a waste of resources. Consider plant-based materials such as cotton and bamboo that require soil and water to grow. These materials are then sent for processing, which requires more water and tons of energy. Worse still, most clothes are not made from natural materials. They are made of synthetic materials, i.e. plastic in the form of nylon, polyester, etc. These come from fossil fuels, a particularly dirty activity, and cause microplastics and chemicals to flow back into soil and water.
Then there is the human worker aspect of rapid garment production. Many primary textile mills are in Asia, particularly China, where labor laws often fail to protect workers from long working hours and inadequate wages. Unhealthy working conditions, exposure to chemicals and unrealistic production expectations plague the industry in the name of quickly and readily available produced clothing, footwear and accessories. Recently, British broadcaster Channel 4 uncovered Shein’s abysmal working practices.
Consumers have the power to determine the direction of fashion. If we don’t buy it, they won’t. It is up to each of us to be conscientious consumers.
Synthetic materials are bad for the environment at all levels of production. Read labels and choose clothes made of wool, cotton, bamboo, hemp, silk and linen instead. These materials come from nature rather than from a laboratory. Organic is best, which means it doesn’t contain any chemicals mixed in. It helps the land it grows on and is also better for us as carriers.
In addition to choosing natural materials, buy the best quality clothes you can afford. The longer a garment stays in use, the more beneficial it is for the planet. Not only are you honoring the abundant resources used in the production of this item, but you are also keeping it out of the waste stream.
Check the country of origin
Garments made in China are unreliable when it comes to fair working conditions. Although there are exceptions, avoid “Made in China” labels unless you’ve researched the factory where the garments were made.
The definition of affordable is different for everyone. In addition to fast fashion regularly offering exciting new options, clothes are generally extremely cheap. Although it is tempting, do not forget the real costs for the planet and humanity.
Bolster your shopping budget by buying readily available and economical 100% cotton items instead. Consider a scenario where you purchase a $5 item from Shein, H&M, Zara, Urban Outfitters, Guess, Forever 21, Gap, etc. You could wear this ultra-trendy item a few times before it goes out of style or goes out of style. poor construction. Then in the trash it goes. A similar but more durable option might cost you three or four times as much, but that $15-$20 shirt will likely stay in your closet much longer.
Think capsule wardrobe
When looking to solve a problem, look to the opposite end of the spectrum. In the case of a fast-fashion counterweight, investigate the components of a capsule wardrobe. You don’t have to limit your stuff to a certain number of items, but keep the versatility of the garment in mind when shopping for it. Basic pants, tops and jackets can be accessorized, dressed up and dressed down in different ways, providing maximum garment life without feeling like you’re wearing the same thing every day.
Don’t be fashionable
Look, we don’t want to take all the joy out of your life, but we’re gonna be here. Your need to be fashionable is killing the planet and its people. While that may sound harsh, the damaging aspects of the fast fashion industry are undeniable. If you contribute financially, you are not part of the solution. Reduce or eliminate clothing purchases. Your little one doesn’t have to be ready for the track. You can be elegant in a more classic sense. Your children’s world will benefit from the decisions you make today.
Buy a second hand
One way to keep things trending is to pick up items likely used at thrift stores, vintage malls, and estate sales. Keep clothes circulating longer by giving them a new home.
So that’s it? All we want is clothes that are made to last, made from natural materials that are responsibly made, chemical free, affordable and produced according to fair trade practices? Yes that’s all. It’s a tall order, but if each of us is vigilant in our purchasing choices, the tides will change.
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