Fast Fashion and its Effect on the Environment

Updated: Mar 29

I’m no fashion guru, and I’ve purchased clothes from major culprits such as Zara and H&M in the past. BUT we’re all recovering hypocrites. So, I figured it’s more important to get the word out than to worry about coming off a certain way.

The rise of fast fashion in the past decades has been no less than a pandemic. In essence, it is the business of taking trendy catwalk designs and mass-producing them at a much lower cost. Fashion production accounts for over 10% of the world’s total carbon emissions, depletes non-renewable energy sources and uses massive amounts of water. Moreover, fast fashion brands use synthetic fabrics which contain microplastics that make up 35% of the plastic pollution in the oceans. The major reason that fast fashion is an environmental problem is how fast trends come and go. The lifetime of clothes has rapidly been decreasing, i.e., people wear clothes very less before discarding them.

Consumerism has guilted us into believing that our lives can be improved through the addition of something, and if we don’t keep up with the latest trend, then somehow we’re lacking. Not only does the expectation to dress differently every day, every season, every year contribute to a consumerist mentality, but forcing individuals to comply to a certain standard in order to look appealing also perpetuates an unrealistic demand for textiles and other resources at a highly unsustainable rate.

There’s no denying that this system is faulty at its core and there are much bigger forces at play. But let’s discuss what we, as individuals, can do to help.

While I appreciate fashion being an integral element of one’s self-expression and identity,

- You don’t need to wear a new dress for every party/event/occasion, and

- You don’t need to be wearing a different outfit in every Instagram post (unless you’re a fashion blogger…)

Something that can greatly help is the concept of a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that do not go out of fashion such as skirts, trousers and coats. The pieces that a capsule wardrobe consists of are extremely versatile and can be augmented with seasonal clothing.

Check out the following links for help in starting a capsule wardrobe:

How to start a capsule wardrobe: a guide for beginners

The capsule wardrobe: how to reduce your closet

Instead of my initial idea to list ways to buy clothes more sustainably, I wrote this because, throughout my journey, I’ve concluded that we can’t CONSUME our way to sustainability. The problem isn’t just buying fast-fashion; it’s buying in general. Let’s normalise re-wearing and focus on repairing rather than buying new.

Remember: The most sustainable outfit is the one you already own!!

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