Welcome back to the Conscious Consumerism intro series!
Today, we present to you:
Conscious Consumerism, Part 3 – Slow Fashion / Fast Fashion
by Lore and Lotus Founder, Jackie Brink
We mentioned briefly in Part 1 and 2 that the fashion industry was a cause of our concern of the conscious consumer and in its production of waste. In this entry we're going to touch base on that an also describe the differences between slow and fast fashion, and why we support the latter.
First, what is Fast Fashion? Fast fashion is a model of mass-producing cheaply made, 'trend' clothing and items, a much lower quality, sold at a lower price point and to sell to the mass market.
In contrast, slow fashion, or sustainable fashion, is the process of designing, creating, and buying quality garments for longevity, encouraging slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and reaching an ideal of zero waste.
Our current demand for more, more, now, sooner has affected us - and the industry - in numerous ways. Of course, we are marketed at constantly to want more, now, new trends in, old trends out. Demand has grown so great that global clothing production has more than doubled (nearly tripled) since 2000.1
However, more demands is equal to more production, and more production means more waste, and more exploitation of land, people and resources.
- Water waste in the fashion industry is shockingly high. Run off from facilities, Dying processes, and more contribute to that. Did you know it takes 2720 litres of water to make a T-shirt? Shockingly, that's how much an average person drinks over a 3 year period!1 And a single pair of blue jeans / Denim uses - 3,781 litres of water during its life-cycle.1
- Overstock fabric by the tons, numerous Swatches, and textile snippets cut from clothing production, faulty or damaged or mis-colored clothing, etc, are almost always discarded. Fashion industry makes approximately 400 billion m2 textiles annually, but about 60 billion m2 of that is just cutting room floor waste.1 These strips could potentially be used to make new clothing/textiles, but instead it is just dumped.
- Many textiles are man-made synthetic fibers and make up 60% of our clothing 2, are actually made of micro-plastic, but they are non-recyclable. Synthetic fabrics include Polyester, Spandex, Nylon, Acrylic and most Rayon. These contribute to ocean plastic pollution.
Thrown out clothing
- In the US alone, 10.5 million tons of clothing are sent to landfill each year.1 Most of the clothes you don't buy end up thrown out by fast fashion corporations, and in most cases, cut up or destroyed in some way before they are tossed out. Some policy is being complimented in some countries or in some corporations, but in most cases this isn't regulated.
- Also, our own clothing that we grow tired of and either do not want to donate or are stained/ripped, etc.
- 95% of discarded clothing can be up cycled or recycled 1, but it usually isn't, (except for a few, small, slow fashion brands).
- An average American throws away approximately 80 pounds of used clothing per person per year.3
- Most of the donated clothing you hand out are also usually dumped or destroyed.
Plastic & Paper Waste
- Shopping Bags, Plastic or Paper, tags and receipts, you name it.
- Boxes, Packing Slips, Plastic Packaging for clothes. Not to mention the carbon emissions and gases released from those plastics and from the ships, trucks, and planes used to ship new, second hand, recycled, and waste clothing worldwide.
Fast fashion is also extremely dangerous to the workers, garment makers, and environment. Toxins and dyes can be extremely toxic, and the average garment workers work unbearable hours in unbearable conditions for little to no pay. In fact, only about 12% of 219 fashion brands could demonstrate any action at all towards paying wages to garment workers, above the legal minimums.1
Here's some of the fashion brands to avoid, who "provide insufficient relevant information about how it reduces its impact on people, the planet or animals" according the Good on You App, (an excellent resource for fast/slow fashion comparisons and brand ratings). According to their blog, Good On You App avoids these fast fashion brands, for and you probably should too: Misguided, SheIn, Nasty Gal, Fashion Nova, and Romwe.
Slow Fashion, on the other hand, embraces people needs, but approaches it with a totally different, slow approach. According to the Good On You App, "Slow Fashion is an awareness and approach to fashion, which considers the processes and resources required to make clothing, particularly focusing on sustainability. It involves buying better-quality garments that will last for longer and values fair treatment of people, animals and the planet." This entails a movement of purchasing from Fair Trade, locally made, sustainable or otherwise eco-friendly and ethical brands, choosing higher quality, longer-lasting products, choosing vintage or second-hand textiles or products. DIY and minimalism is also a form of Slow Fashion. Sustainable fashion, a part of slow fashion, and vice versa, is also consciously considering the ethical and environmental impact on other humans or the planet when producing textiles and products.
"Sustainable fashion aims to produce garments that are sourced sustainably, produced within an ethical process and will last longer thanks to a higher quality. The entire cycle of a garment from its design to potential uses and lifespan is considered." 4
How can we reduce our fast fashion Environmental Impact? Be a conscious consumer. As Emma Watson once said, "as consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy."
"A conscious consumer is someone who is aware of the negative effects of purchasing items that not produced sustainably or ethically, for this reason they choose to purchase items that adhere to certain guidelines of sustainability and avoid contributing to mass production and wasteful or harmful manufacture processes."4
Conscious consumers reduce our Fashion Environmental Impact by:
- Buying quality. Buy your new clothes from Eco, ethical, sustainable and slow fashion brands. Seek out transparency, and wear clothes that matter! There's a lot of really amazing sustainable and Eco brands out there now, and more coming all the time. And there's definitely a few in your budget range, I promise. For an affordable wardrobe, I highly recommend Pact for basics, Universal Standard for all sizes, and Amour Vert for work. I have actually bought and own items from these, and love them. (I'll go over my entire collection of slow fashion brands in another journal!).
- Buying second hand, swap, & rent clothing. Vintage is a great way to get affordable, sustainable style. Host a swap party with friends, or subscribe for one of the many online clothing rental sites (though this isn't the best of these options because of the shipping/emissions/etc).
- Buying Less. Less often and less impulsively. The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobe. - Orsola de Castro
- Extending the life of your old clothes. Maybe reconsider the immediate throw out box, filled with older clothes. Consider donating, gifting, re-purposing or reusing it in some way. Extending the life of clothing by 9 months to year - reduces carbon, waste, and water by 20-30% per garment.1
- Asking, "who made my clothes?" It is not enough just looking for quality in the products we buy, we must ensure that there is quality in the lives of the people who make them - Orsola de Castro
- Washing less and more aware. As many fast fashion man-made textiles contain fibers of micro-plastics that get flushed out in the wash, and certain laundry detergents and harsh chemicals can shorten the list span of our clothing, it's best to wash less often. Make sure your using an environmentally-safe detergent and for the love of god, GET RID OF DRYER SHEETS!!! All you need is a set of wool dryer balls or two, and essential oils. Dryer Sheets are plastic based waste, and terrible for the planet. A good set of Wool dryer balls will last you literal years.