Fast fashion is killing the planet and hurting people. It’s responsible for 10% of worldwide carbon emissions and a huge amount of brands are using modern slave labor to produce their products.
All in all, it’s bad news.
However, it isn’t all bad news. There is a growing movement pushing consumers to shop for ethically made clothing instead. In even better news, it’s not even hard to do so.
We’ll be guiding you through how you can join in the ethical movement in this article.
The Consequences of Fast Fashion
To inspire you to buy ethically made clothing, it helps to understand what the consequences of fast fashion are for our planet and people. The statistics we mentioned in the introduction don’t even begin to cover how vast the repercussions are.
Huge Amounts of Waste
People are buying more clothes. By 2014, people bought 60% more garments on average than they did in 2000. Clothing production has doubled since 2000.
While this isn’t bad news in itself, on average people are only keeping the clothes for half as long. It’s estimated 85% of all textiles go to the dump every year.
To put that into context, that’s a garbage truck full of clothes being dumped or burnt every second of every year.
Damaging Our Oceans
On top of this, the materials used to make these clothes are not sustainable. Polyester is found in around 60% of garments. When we wash our clothes, these plastic microfibers are released into the ocean.
The amount of microfibers released into the ocean from washing our clothes is the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. These microfibres never biodegrade and account for around 31% of all plastic pollution in the ocean.
This isn’t the only damage fast fashion does to the oceans. The fashion industry uses a huge amount of water for production. For example, it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans.
Other production processes, such as dying, further pollute the water. The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of water pollution worldwide.
If hurting the planet isn’t enough of a reason for you, fast fashion also hurts people. Brands that sell clothes incredibly cheap save the costs by using unethical business practices like overseas sweatshops.
These sweatshops have terrible working conditions with long hours and wages far below the poverty line. Women make up between 80 to 90% of sweatshop workers worldwide and are often subjected to inhumane practices such as forced birth control and pregnancy tests.
It isn’t only women being harmed though. Around 170 million children are engaged in child labor worldwide. A huge number of these children work in textile production.
5 Ways to Shop for Ethically Made Clothing
As you can see, the consequences of the fast fashion industry are far-reaching for our planet and people. But the good news is there are many ways you can avoid fast fashion and do better for the planet and people. Here are our 5 top tips to shop ethically:
1. Do Your Research
The internet allows us access to a wealth of information like never before, so make the most of it. If brands are using unsustainable or unethical practices, you’ll be able to find out about them online.
A good general rule of thumb is if the brand is putting out a lot of clothing collections a year for rock-bottom prices, they’re one to avoid. Though some outliers exist, for example, Prada and Fendi have both been accused of using child labor.
2. Check the Label and Tags
As part of the growing movement of sustainable and ethical fashion, the label is where to look.
Brands that are using ethical business practices and sustainable materials are proud of what they’re doing. Many of them have signed up to various labels from third parties like Fair Trade that back up what they’re doing.
This makes it easier for consumers to just check the tags or labels to see whether an item of clothing is ethical. You can see an example of this with these tags.
3. Pick Sustainable Materials
Polyester is bad news for the planet, but it might surprise you that cotton isn’t much better. It takes up a huge amount of water to produce and production worldwide is intrinsically linked with exploitative labor.
However, recycled cotton is a great pick for a more sustainable clothing material. Other sustainable options include organic hemp and organic linen.
It’s important to note, organic in itself doesn’t equate to ethical. But the carbon footprint of your clothing will be smaller.
4. Shop Second-Hand
One of the best ways you can shop is second-hand. This way you don’t have to worry quite as much about where clothes have come from, as you’re doing your bit in a different way.
Shopping second-hand reduces the huge amount of textile waste that ends up in landfills. You’re extending the life of an item of clothing instead of buying new and creating more.
There are many places you can buy amazing clothes second hand, such as:
- Thrift stores
- Online marketplaces like eBay and Depop
- Garage sales
- Clothing swaps
Remember, when you want to get rid of your clothes, donate or resell them too.
5. Shop Local
Instead of heading to large brands at the mall, shop local. Your local boutique is far more likely to know where their textiles are sourced from and how they’re made. So ask them!
Local shopping also reduces your carbon footprint, as the clothes won’t have been imported, increasing transportation emissions.
Be a Part of the Movement
Ethically made clothing is better for the planet and people. It reduces emissions, waste, and pollution, as well as treating workers better. You can be a part of the growing movement by making sure you do your research, opt for sustainable materials, and support local and second-hand stores.
If you’d like to learn more, we have more fashion articles on our website, so go check them out.