Fast Fashion: the mass production of clothing that is cheap for the consumer, yet historically made unethically through labor. How many times have we browsed on the internet for new clothes? On the clothing label, where does it say the article of clothing is from? Does the providing store have easily available information for us to know the labor systems in which the piece of clothing was made by? Many, if not all, of these questions are not something that the majority of the population ponder on when shopping. However, as our society becomes more sustainably-conscious, it is valuable to have information on how the product of clothing impacts us, our environment, and our future.
“It's only one cheap shirt,” said 8 billion people.
How does Fast Fashion impact Marine Life?
- Textile-dyes are the the second largest polluter of clean water globally and in fast fashion
- cheaper toxic chemicals used
- make their way into our streams and rivers – and ultimately, our Ocean.
- Hazardous chemicals are bio-accumulative
- Also carcinogenic and can disrupt animal hormones
- proving detrimental to their health
- Use of cheap materials (ie: polyester)
- When this material is washed in a machine, it sheds microfibers containing plastics
- further contributing to the ever-increasing amount of plastic waste in our Ocean
- These microfibers are so tiny that they are easily and unwittingly ingested by marine life such as fish, turtles and whales, accumulating in their stomachs and filling their stomachs.
- They are also eaten by tiny creatures such as plankton, which are in turn eaten by larger animals – so even those that manage to avoid ingesting the microfibers directly themselves will eventually do so anyway as it makes its way up the food chain.
What is the connection between Wildfires and Fast Fashion?
- A Case Study into the Amazon rainforest
- Fast Fashion Brands contributing to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest (a study conducted by Stand.Earth - a supply chain research firm)
- Production of materials (leather and leather goods)
- 84 companies analyzed
- 23/84 companies had explicit reports and policies on deforestation
- “Likely” that all 23 companies are violating their own policies
- Man-made wildfires to make way for agriculture, development projects, and mining
Does environmental racism exist in the Fast Fashion industry?
- Injustice towards Women
- Exacerbates systemic sexism.
- ~74 million textile workers globally, 80% are women of color.
- Due to loose regulations in developing countries, these workers are forced to deal with numerous occupational hazards including dangerous conditions and discrimination.
- Workers along the supply chain have historically faced disease, cancer, endocrine system damage, adverse reproductive outcomes, injuries, and death due to workplace conditions.
- Factory owners take advantage of women’s unequal position in societies around the world.
- They pay them less, demand more, eliminate job security, and diminish their rights.
- Women experience physical and verbal abuses in these factories.
How are other habitats and species impacted by Fast Fashion?
- 20% of global freshwater pollution comes from the wet processing of the textile industry
- Wet processing includes the scouring, bleaching, dyeing, printing and finishing of raw textiles which are water and chemical intensive processes.
- Many companies are cleaning up their acts and investing in cleaner dyeing innovations and better wastewater treatment, many of the world’s waterways are still being polluted.
- The Citarum River in Indonesia is home to around 2,000 textile factories where effluent from the dyeing and processing of fabrics has previously been dumped, with little or no regulation.
- Caused extensive environmental and human health issues in the area.
- Pesticides used for the production of our raw materials have been shown to reduce the populations of important species and eroding soil biodiversity
- Although the cultivated area of cotton covers only 3% of the planet’s agricultural land, it uses 16% of all insecticides and 7% of all pesticides.
- Some have been banned and replaced, but many insecticides continue to kill or harm a broad spectrum of insects, including those that pollinate crops.
So what now? Here at Sea Seven, we encourage you to check out What is Sustainable Fashion to learn more + get some helpful tips on how to shop with the intention of Slow Fashion.
“Sustainable fashion is not a trend, but the future.”