A popular trend in clothing in a particular place during a specific time period. Inexpensive clothing is created based on fashion trends, which encourages clothing disposal as a result of its fast-response system.
Started and influenced due to competition among clothing brands and to increase profit. Large apparel brands such as Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, and GAP would produce cheap, low-quality clothes consist of synthetic chemicals and non-sustainable dyes. These large companies manufacture their products in 3rd world countries, where the working conditions are poor, wages are low and production is bad for the environment. The clothes are then shipped to stores in Europe and North America to be sold for very low prices. Low prices encourage consumers to buy more for less, only for the clothes to end up in landfills. The decay of synthetic garments in landfills is detrimental to the environment. Dyeing and printing consume tons of water and chemicals and it also releases numerous volatile agents into the atmosphere that are harmful to our health.
With the increase of clothing production, many items are discarded and eventually thrown out after a few uses for new weekly trends. These disposable items create numerous harmful impacts on the environment, including increasing greenhouse gas emissions through landfill pollution. These great amounts of clothing waste also help contribute to global warming through water pollution. The different types of fibers used to produce clothes all have their own negative impacts. Synthetic fibers have sustainability issues and aren’t able to naturally degrade that pollutes the oceans. This harms the wildlife because various animals can consume plastics which can kill them due to the toxic compounds inside.
The different levels of government are taking the initiative to minimize the environmental impact of fast fashion. At the municipal level, Markham bans clothes, sheets, towels, curtains, and shoes from trash bags. Instead, residents drop them off at city-run street-side collection bins. Anything collected is donated to the Salvation Army and the Canadian Diabetes Association. At the provincial level, Ontario MPP Donna Skelly calls on her government to implement a province-wide stewardship program to put an end to the fast fashion cycle. At the federal level, the government requires retailers to pay taxes and duties on all imported garments. If a garment goes unsold, companies can either discard it at a landfill, and the import duty is refunded since the garment is considered unused, or recycle the material, which makes it “used” according to the government, and the duty is not refunded.
A Canadian brand called “Wallis Evera” uses hemp on its garments. It is a natural fiber (instead of a petrol-based fiber like nylon, acrylic, or polyester), and they are incredibly durable and also biodegradable. Hemp also requires very little water and no harmful pesticides, insecticides, or fungicides.
In 2007, Kelly Drennan founded Fashion Takes Action, the only non-profit organization in Canada focused on promoting sustainability in the fashion industry and among consumers. Hosting conferences like WEAR (World Ethical Apparel Roundtable) and Eco Fashion Week were also promoting a brighter future in the textiles industry.
Big brands are starting to take notice. Nike, H&M, Burberry, and Gap have all recently signed up for the Make Fashion Circular initiative. It aims to improve the industry’s record on sustainability and reduce global waste from fashion by recycling raw materials and products.
These policies are helping bit by bit, but they have not solved the overall issue of Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion is still a global issue, and it won’t ever go away and stop until everyone becomes aware. We need to promote more NGOs on our social media because they encourage emerging designers to pursue sustainable (not fast) fashion. But most importantly, the government should focus more on educating people about the consequences and impacts of cheap clothing, then Fast Fashion would become easier to solve.
We think that the previously stated methods towards solving this issue are very effective, but it would be very beneficial to the environment if consumers learn to purchase less or what’s necessary and to make better use out of what they currently have.
Consumers could simply change shops and buys at stores that aren’t engaged in fast fashion and purchase higher quality items that consist of harmless fabrics. Eco-friendly clothing items that are made out of organic fibers are so beneficial to the environment. Although they’re pricier, it would be worth it in the long run as they are less harmful and are more breathable.
Consumers should wear their clothes fully until they can’t be used. Once that happens, rather than throwing your clothes out, it’s a great idea to recycle your clothes because it’s very easy and doable. For example, if a sweater or a t-shirt gets too small or old, you could cut pieces out of it to make a new item, like mittens, or transform it into a “trendy” crop top. This prevents these items from contributing to landfill pollution and water pollution. It also allows people to become more resourceful and think more about how they can help the environment.
Lastly, cooperative interactions between customers and fashion companies can really help build a relationship that will allow them to collaboratively and more effectively work towards fixing this issue. If both consumers and the fashion industry continue on with their efforts and further promote awareness in Fast Fashion, we believe that there would be a list of positive results about this issue.