Refuse to create refuse: The true cost of “fast fashion”

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Refuse to create refuse: The true cost of “fast fashion”
Refuse to create refuse: The true cost of “fast fashion”

Published: 8/5/2023 10:00:29 AM

Modified: 8/5/2023 10:00:16 AM

Because I tend to wear the same clothes for years, even decades, I’d never heard of “Fast Fashion” until recently. I’m pretty sure my ignorance of it also has to do with the distant decade I was born in. Back then I dare say trends tended to last at least a couple of years.

In fact, Fast Fashion is a relatively recent idea, having come about in the late ’90s. To define it I quote a New York Times article from 2022: “During the 1990s retailers began to introduce trendy, cheaply priced and poorly made clothes on a weekly basis, intending to match the breakneck pace at which fashion trends move.”

Where do those clothes come from? According to a PBS program on You Tube, the biggest manufacturer is a company in China called Shein. It reportedly has 6,000 factories across China where employees work 18 hour days, have one day off a month and are under enormous pressure to produce the mountains of clothes to be shipped overseas to waiting customers.

Production of clothing has increased in the world by 400% in the last 20 years. The population has not. Per a recent Concord Monitor article from the New Hampshire Bulletin, besides being a huge source of waste, Fast Fashion rivals aviation in terms of global carbon emissions in its production and distribution.

These articles are about refusing to create refuse. It’s not hard to see where this is going. The fashion industry has somehow convinced too many of us that to wear the same item of clothing beyond a couple weeks or to wear it twice is going to lead to public shaming. Naturally, that leads also to buying and discarding clothing by the cart-full in quick succession. They are made to be inexpensive so that this can happen. “Inexpensive” translates to petroleum based fabrics of polyester and other synthetic substances. Fleece is made from plastic bottles, a clever way to keep them from the landfill except that, one, they shed plastic fibers and two, they too end their earthly lives the same way our other clothing does, eventually being discarded and contaminating the land.

Can “Fast Fashion” be turned around to become “Slow and Sustainable?” Can we become less influenced by fashion trends and more conscious of what impact our purchases mean to the environment? According to the NH Bulletin article referenced above, our neighbor state to the south has banned textiles in household trash leading residents to find alternative ways to handle them. What might that look like? 1. Donating usable items to Goodwill or other outlets. 2. Deciding to keep and wear clothes longer. 3. When making a purchase, buy clothes with natural, organically grown fibers that will decompose. 4. Buying clothes that will be in vogue for a long time. 5. Buying things that are multi-seasonal. 6. Buying from Goodwill or other such shops and consignment shops. 7. Swapping clothes with others.

I freely admit I have too much clothing but 90% of it came “used.”

If buying and wearing used clothes doesn’t resonate for you, I hope this article will give you reason to pause and consider reducing your textile footprint.

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