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The damage of fast fashion

Issue #06

The fashion industry makes up about 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, it affects water consumption, air pollution and ocean pollution. Yet it is often not the industry people focus on when thinking about a sustainable lifestyle.  

First of all, what does fast fashion mean? The term refers to the increase in the production of inexpensive clothing by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Especially nowadays with Instagram, TikTok and other social media, trends are constantly evolving and brands are trying to keep up and stay connected to their target audience.  

For this reason, since the year 2000 clothing production worldwide has approximately doubled, and it keeps increasing. The fast fashion industry is actually problematic on many levels, since it not only has extreme effects on the environment, but also the worker treatment and wages are an area of concern. Clothing gets produced in countries where workers are not payed fair wages, garment workers are some of the lowest paid workers worldwide. Only approximately two percent of these workers earn a living wage. The factories are not safe to work in. For example, in 2013 a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed and over 1000 workers were killed.  

The effects of the fashion industry on the environment are fatal. It is the second most polluting industry on earth. In total, fashion produces more than 92 million tonnes of waste, most of which ends up in landfills or the oceans, and consumes 1.5 trillion tons of water a year. The dyeing of textiles with cheap and toxic dyes is known as the second biggest polluter of water worldwide, just after agriculture.  

Another issue is the use of polyester, a fabric usually derived from a chemical reaction between petroleum, air and water. Since it is cheap and easy to produce, a lot of clothing it made out of this material. Microfibers from this fabric are released into the waterways every time the clothing articles are washed in domestic washing machines. Due to their small size, these pieces are easily consumed by fish and other wildlife and can kill them.  

Luckily nowadays it is quite easy to avoid shopping fast fashion, even on a student budget.  

First of all, with a bit of research, it is easy to find out which of your favourite brands use sustainable materials in their clothing and which ones support fast fashion. There are many small sustainable fashion brands, however sometimes due to producing under humane working conditions and using sustainable materials the prices for their clothing might be a bit higher. So if this isn’t an option for you, you can always check out your local thrift stores and flea markets for a more sustainable way of shopping. We have a few nice ones here in Leeuwarden and generally you can find them in most cities.  

#StayGreen 🌎🌿

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