Fast Fashion's Impact on the Environment
Fashion trends have played a part in social culture since the dawn of civilization. However, today’s fast-paced culture influenced by technology has created a social environment in which trends increase at an alarming rate. Social media websites are constantly adopting newer trends that make it challenging for the average person to keep up unless they’re connected to the internet 24/7.
Many fashion businesses take ideas from high-quality fashion houses and then market them at a lower price. These collective businesses are part of the “fast fashion group” and are a growing billion-dollar industry.
However, fast fashion is controversial because of its environmental impact. Here are ways in which fast fashion affects the environment.
1. It increases the depletion of water.
According to Earth.org, the fashion industry is the second largest that consumes water. At the same time, textile dyeing is the second-largest polluter of water. Much leftover water from the dyeing process is dumped in rivers and ditches.
Water moves in cycles, where its renewability is shaped by time and environmental conditions. As such, water remains a precious but limited resource. Less water means fewer life-sustaining compounds for all living things.
2. Using synthetic fibers leads to increase microplastic presence.
Fast fashion businesses use inexpensive materials like synthetic fibers. Some examples of these fibers include polyester and acrylic, which requires a century or so to biodegrade. In the IUCN report in 2017, 35% of microplastics in the ocean came from laundering synthetic textiles.
Microplastics are harmful because they absorb chemicals, including pesticides and certain metals. They are also prevalent in air, land, and water, thus making it easy for people and animals to consume them.
3. Fast fashion production requires enormous energy consumption.
Many fast fashion businesses advertise providing cheap clothes made at an affordable price. The energy required in this process is intense through using fuels and pesticides. Fuel is necessary for machine use and transportation, while pesticides are used to eliminate pests in textile farming.
4. Fast fashion leads to chemical pollution.
The process of growing and dyeing textiles requires the use of chemicals. These cheap chemicals harm the air, water, and human health. Workers exposed to these harmful substances are prone to developing injury and sickness.
5. Increased textile waste.
Fast trends constantly change based on what society deems acceptable. Many outdated textiles from fast fashion are thrown and discarded, and many end up in landfills. Additionally, these textiles are made with synthetic fibers, meaning they’ll take decades to break down.
Takeaway: Shopping for clothes can be a fun experience, but it helps to be aware of where you’re buying from. Before buying from a fast fashion shop, try to see if you can salvage your clothes. You can also help reduce waste by shopping in second-hand shops that offer great options.