The (tragic) environmental and social impact of fast fashion – The Wom

Qthose of fast fashion and right aftersuper fashion they are business models that have slowly entered our daily lives and have found their maximum expression in the phenomenon of compulsive shopping, without us realizing it. A new dependence, that of low-cost fashion, driven by a constant sense of need, urgency and scarcity suggested through the most varied marketing strategies

We buy out of fear of missing out, we buy because we’re sad or because we’re happy, we buy because we’re afraid that t-shirt might go Sold Out when in reality, more than 100 billion new garments are produced each year and every second a truckload of clothing (often filled with unsold surplus) is emptied into a landfill. So I would say no, this floral shirt identical to hundreds of thousands of others on the market is not our last chance.

A market, that of fast fashion, worth $36 billion and which despite the efforts of environmentalists and the warnings of scientists continues to grow relentlessly, filling our store shelves, our wardrobe doors and the sand dunes of deserts in places where people have no food, no water but the last trend.

But when does the phenomenon of fast fashion begin? What impact does it have on our lives? How do we detox?

The birth of fast fashion

We are in the 1800s and the cheap clothing store, (recommended to read here), the first stores that did not sell custom-made clothes but uniforms or second-hand goods for workers or less affluent citizens. These realities, while far removed from today’s clothes chains, are nevertheless the first brick of what will one day become one of the world’s biggest problems.

During the industrial revolution, with the appearance of the first factories and sewing machines, the production of clothing ceased to be a slow and expensive process. The arrival of World War II, however, marked a sudden slowdown, fabrics were rationed and clothing became increasingly formal.

In 1947 the H&M chain was born and only a few decades later, in 1975, Zara. Later the Inditex holding company was also born, which in addition to the brands just mentioned today also owns Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius and Oysho.

However, the phenomenon of fast fashion only appeared in the 2000s, with dozens of new collections a year copying, at low cost, the models of the big fashion houses.

Should I spice it all up? economic insecurity and crisis. Second Elizabeth Kleinauthor and industry expert, there are 52 “micro-eras” of fast fashion.

Beating the speed of fast fashion, however, is thesuper fashionthe new business model that can produce up to 6000 new items per day

The target is under-25s who order or receive boxes and boxes of clothes as gifts from industry giants in exchange for so-called “try on haul” videos to advertise the new arrivals.

But what is the problem with all this? Simple: too many products = too much future waste.

Guilt or responsibility? Is it an economy that doesn’t allow us to spend a lot on quality clothes, or is it a matter of values ​​that we no longer have? We are victims of a world where everything has to be fast: from likes on a post to success at work. These are complicated questions, but it’s also true that we have brains and the ability to document ourselves to make up our own minds.

The impact of fast fashion

The impact of this type of industry is significant and begins before a garment is even conceived. Let’s start with the raw materials: cotton and viscose are fibers of natural origin but which require a lot of water to produce, and then there’s nylon, acrylic, polyurethane or elastane, all derived from hydrocarbons like oil. After the threads have been produced and woven to form the garments, they must be dyed: no small matter, since

In Asia there is a saying: “to know the next trend, just look at the color of the waterways”

Some surveys have then carcinogens discovered in various clothes (even for children)but that’s another story.

A garment’s journey, at this point, is just beginning. In fact, it has yet to be transported to shops or our homes with a further huge impact in terms of CO2 emissions and the use of electricity and energy that is always produced from fossil sources.

Ghana is overwhelmed by clothing waste
Ghana is overwhelmed by clothing waste

Then in our homes, once their life cycle is over and having become contaminated, often releasing microplastics when washeddiscarded and then collected and transported (with other emissions) to landfills in Africa, China or South America where often they burn producing other climate-changing gases.

Per person, in the EU alone, we produce 654 kg of CO2 equivalent per year!

The solution? Recycle, recycle and second-hand… but minimalism helps a lot too! But we’ll talk about that next time!

Federica Gasbarro works with The Wom independently and is in no way associated with the advertisements that may appear in this content.

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