There are many different elements of the ethical and slow fashion movement that we could discuss, but for many of us who have grown up in a world of fast fashion—however unaware we may have been of that fact—the question we must first address is why ethical fashion matters in the first place.
What’s the big deal with owning flip flops in every color of the rainbow, buying shirts for 5€ and tossing them just a few months later, and having the enormous variety fast fashion gives us?
The big deal is: it costs more than you think.
As members of a capitalist culture, primarily we consider cost how it will impact our wallet and budget, but rarely anything else. But the true cost of anything is not measured in terms of the number on a price tag. There are hidden costs associated with every purchase, and the cost of fast fashion is a lot higher than we realize.
Buying into a fast fashion mindset costs the environment.
Did you know that over 15 million tons of textile waste is generated in the United States every year? And nearly 13 million tons of that waste is thrown into a landfill where it’s incapable of biodegrading. On top of the enormous amount of textile waste sitting in landfills, the actual production of clothing negatively impacts the environment as well. It takes 2700 liters of water to make one cotton t-shirt, which is roughly the same amount of water one person will drink over a 12 year period. Pesticides used in farming seep into the ground, eventually making it infertile, and chemical dye runoff pollutes local water sources.
Though synthetic fibers like polyester have a smaller impact on things like water scarcity, the limited options for textile recycling and its inability to biodegrade only contributes to the amount of waste sitting in landfills year after year.
Buying into a fast fashion mindset costs other people.
Do you remember the tragic collapse of the garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2013? Known as the Rana Plaza collapse, it cost the lives of over 1100 garment workers and injured an estimated 2500 people. Despite other businesses in the building being closed after discovering cracks in the building, the garment workers were ordered to return the following day, with threats that their pay would be withheld if they didn’t come in.
We’d like to think events like this are rare to happen, but they shine on a light on the horrible and often deadly conditions millions of garment workers deal with every day. In addition to working in terrible and unsafe conditions, many garment workers are children, trafficking victims, or both.
It hurts to think about, but the t-shirt or dress you got from the nearest fast fashion retailer was quite possibly made by a child or trafficked laborer in unsafe or even deadly conditions for pennies a day. And they continue to live in these situations because of fast fashion and the insatiable consumerist demand.
Though we like to think of fashion as an individual thing, we don’t live in an isolated society. The things we purchase and wear impact more than just what we look like from day to day and how much money we have in our bank account.
Ethical fashion matters because our lives aren’t the only ones that matter. The lives of garment workers around the globe matter, as does the sustainability of the planet we all live on.
Why you should buy Fair Trade Clothing
- It´s not mass-produced often is carefully handcrafted made using natural materials which last longer.
- It gives equal rights by offering training, maternity leave, healthcare and freedom from harassment.
- Fair Trade retailers ensure fair pay for their workers allowing them to reinvest in their local communities and economies.
- It helps the environment by using sustainable practices and alert about issues such as proper waste disposal, water runoff, chemical use, energy usage.. -
- These companies are driven by genuine eco desire to create a positive change, therefore, a quality clothing that lasts.
- Because you will feel proud of yourself wearing a garment that has done something good to the planet.