“… and I think to myself what a wonderful world”, sang Luis Armstrong in 1967.
What is today's perception of a wonderful world? How has the world changed in those 55 years, and more important: how did we change it?
After centuries of investing in evolving industries and growing the economy, now it’s the right time to “Invest In Our Planet”, as this year’s Global Earth Day slogan encourages us to do.
By spreading awareness about our mother Earth and her health, we can still walk the right path. Join us on this exciting journey in the #sustainablefashion movement!
It has become difficult to wear a garment more than five times. How did we achieve that, and why?
For some time now, the quality of clothing has been deteriorating every year. As a result, our clothes appear faded, shapeless, or worn out almost instantly. Add in some made-up trends that fast fashion produces, and we cannot keep up.
Fast Fashion is defined as the mass manufacture of low-cost, throwaway clothes. Countless new collections per year make us constantly feel outdated and encourage us to keep buying more. Luckily for the world, this trend keeps us dissatisfied and confused while shopping, which used to be fun.
Since 2000, European fashion brands went from releasing just 2 new collections per year to up to 24.
24? Let’s slow that down; we don’t feel like accelerating anymore. Let’s see why:
The fashion industry is the 3rd biggest world water supply consumer.
Freshwater is used for the dyeing and finishing of all of our clothing in the process of production. As a point of perspective, each ton of colored fabric can require up to 200 tons of freshwater, while many individuals still lack access to safe drinking water.
There's a reason why polyester is so prevalent in the industry. It's even been presented as being more sustainable than some natural fibers since the manufacturing process requires less water and land than cultivating natural fibers. The bad news is that over 1/3 of all primary microplastic pollution in our seas comes from textiles. The plastic ones!
Of course, wearing natural fibers is always a good answer. But remember, good things come to those who wait. A sheep needs to grow for a year to produce wool, and cotton is a thirsty plant, slow to mature - it takes 160 days to make cotton after being planted. The same goes for linen. They don’t want to rush their days in the field just because some trends have changed. Do you?
The fast-fashion businesses generate approximately 92 million tonnes of waste each year.
We don’t realize how much we need soil until it’s already gone. Of course, The Fast Fashion is fastly drying and degrading this cherishable aspect of life. This is how:
overproduction of wood-based fibers causing deforestation, the soil soaks up the chemicals used to dye textiles, grassland expansion for cashmere goats and sheep leading to deforestation, pesticide and insecticide pollution causes major soil degradation.
The most problematic fiber production is Cotton. Cotton fields represent a little more than 2 % of the Earth’s agricultural land. Not a lot. But intensive agricultural approach requires 6 % of the world’s pesticide and 16 % of insecticide usage, which is more than any other field-grown corp. This is why major fashion companies are trying to switch to organic cotton basics. To help.
And after the production? Statistics show that most textile considered as waste ends up in landfills, while only 13% is recycled. And think about all those donated clothes that don’t find a new owner … Don’t add to those numbers, and think about the environmental impact you’ve made with your purchase.
We all know that #fastdontlast.
The Fashion industry produces 1.2 billion greenhouse gasses every year (more than all international flights and shipping combined)
The clothes we wear are responsible for approximately 10% of carbon emissions on the planet.
While we’ve seen why synthetic fibers seem popular, their carbon footprint will sadly stay on the scene. They are made from fossil fuels, making their production faster but, on the other hand, far more energy demanding. Not only that, cheap synthetic fibers generate chemicals like N2O, which are way more harmful to the environment than CO2.
Most of our clothing is made in coal-powered nations like China, Bangladesh, and India. In terms of carbon emissions, this is the dirtiest source of energy. And this is another reason why all those commercials are trying to encourage us to shop locally. Remember that we are moving slowly, but into the future and not the past?
14 - 16 h/day is the average working day in most Fast Fashion manufacturing countries
We've known for decades that most of our clothing is produced in nations where workers' rights are restricted or non-existent. In reality, industrial facilities are frequently relocated in search of ever-lower labor costs.
The working conditions of garment workers in Asia are being referred to even as "slave labor" by the European Parliament. There are reports of catastrophic working accidents in unregulated fast fashion factories, resulting in fatalities.
Many activists and movements have formed communities to help the planet and the people involved in this fast mess. They are the inspiration to us all and the encouragement that we will slowly reach a good cause. Here are some of the essential organizations in sustainable fashion:
Growing a better community and a working environment takes time. But keeping the profits out of fast fashion giants can do the most. One can start by asking: “Who made my clothes?”
Sometimes we worry and overthink if we miss a cool fashion trend in The Fast Fashion Industry. It was all over Instagram, and we could have gotten that coupon for it, and she has it, and …, and … Slow down. Rethink. Do you REALLY need it? Why? How many times are you using it?
Searching for sustainable options shouldn’t affect your style. Even though sustainability has been at the forefront in recent years, the style of those garments kept fashionable and up to date. Young designers always keep one eye on the latest trends and think about the 20 rule. We don’t have to choose between fashionable and sustainable anymore, and we can have both!
What is the 20 rule?
The twenty-year rule is a popular approach to forecast which styles will be back in style in each decade. It works by looking back 20 years for today’s style inspiration.
Fashion must continue to develop new styles that iconize the era we live in, but in the same sense, avoiding overproduction and toxic non-lasting trends. We know we will get there. Slowly.
Keep up the good spirits. We know you’ve been doing great work for this yourself! The impact is impact, no matter how big or small, quick or slow.
Big fashion brands realize that a change has to be made. Many of them are shifting into an ethical and sustainable business model, focusing on their environment rather than only on their profits.
Now, get ready, and let's go. Slowly is the fastest way to get you where you want to be.
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Pablu for EarthDay 2022