The Madness of Fast Fashion and Why We Should Care About Sustainable Fashion
What is Fast Fashion & Why It's Time for a Reset
Fast fashion is a global phenomenon rooted in the disposable culture of modern society. It is a design, manufacturing, and marketing method focused on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing. It’s a concept that has been praised for its speed and efficiency, but it comes at a cost.
Fast fashion is not sustainable!
Our current economic system measures success through the means of economics, which explains why fashion can be an extremely profitable industry. However, the fashion industry is one that is known to be one of the world's worst polluters. As its impact on the environment grows, it's time to reset the fast fashion industry by encouraging brands to promote sustainable practices and move away from mass production materials towards natural and organic materials.
How Does Fast Fashion Harm the Environment?
The rapid output of new designs and the low-cost production line have led to a gradual depletion of resources and a pollution-filled world. The global footprint of fast fashion is huge. It accounts for over $1 trillion annually just in the United States alone, according to Bloomberg data. And that’s not even taking into account any other countries where this trend is on the rise - China, India, Spain, and many others.
The fast fashion industry has an immeasurable impact on the environment. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, manufacturing one t-shirt consumes more water than flushing one toilet for an entire year. Moreover, the amount of water, energy, and chemicals used in producing each garment has increased significantly over time, and there is little thought given during production to minimize how much it releases into the air or land as waste.
Few companies are now taking a more proactive approach to this issue by introducing sustainable practices into their supply chain as well as their product offerings - but it’s not always easy. By reducing our buying habits, we can slow or stop this harmful impact on the environment.
Why Should We Care About Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable fashion is a term that refers to the production of clothing with minimal environmental impact. Sustainable fashion has become popular because people are becoming aware of its importance and want products that align with their values. However, there are many challenges faced by the industry towards adoption, one of which is commoditization - when a consumer becomes accustomed to consuming a certain product without consideration for its social and environmental value.
Companies adopting sustainable fashion can show their customers that they care about sustainability by using a socially conscious business model or by partnering with other brands that share similar values. The long-term benefits of sustainable fashion are numerous. As consumers, we should at least consider an alternative to unsustainable clothing when purchasing as it provides the below benefits:
Reduce your carbon footprint
Protect the environment
Helps to save water
What Makes a Sustainable Brand Truly Sustainable?
The sustainability of a company is not only about how much money they are making but also about how they make the world a better place. A brand’s sustainability starts with its product and business practices. It also includes environmental and social aspects as well as a company’s work with labor, rights, and community development
In order for a brand to be more sustainable, they must understand their audience and challenge themselves to make a positive impact on the world around them. When it comes to sustainable clothing brands, they are often defined by their material, production method, and consumption. For example, clothes made from organic cotton might be more sustainable than those that are made with synthetic fibers. Similarly, garments that use less water during manufacturing might be more sustainable than those that use a lot of water.
Fashion brands can create a sustainable brand image for themselves by following these general guidelines:
Sustainable materials - use of eco-friendly fabrics, organic cotton, recycled materials as much as possible.
Ethics - being aware of the ethical practices in the supply chain and ensuring that the brand doesn’t contribute to environmental degradation.
Examples of sustainable strategies that helped brands grow their bottom lines
The good news is that brands can implement sustainable strategies that still enable them to retain their bottom line. As an example, MUD Jeans offers a membership service, in which the customer gets a new pair of jeans every year, while the old pair is recycled for new jeans. Innovative startup brands are driving major changes in consumer behavior and driving social change with their business models. A good example is TOMS, an online shoe store that donates a pair of shoes for each pair purchased. Likewise, Renting the Runway (US) and Aircloset (Japan) offer customers clothing for rent on a subscription basis. It allows consumers to wear new items every week without committing to buying them.
Source: Green Market Oracle
Apart from the mentioned brands, Patagonia is a company that uses its manufacturing process to be environmentally conscious and produces clothing that is recyclable and uses certified organic cotton. Patagonia has a whole website dedicated to its sustainability principles. They have a unique approach to business and they care about what their customers think. In addition, they have taken care of their employees’ wellness by providing them with free healthcare and life insurance while providing an employee-owned co-op for employees who want to buy into it.
Concluding thoughts on sustainable fashion
The state of fashion today is unsustainable. Luckily, the future of sustainable fashion is bright. Companies are increasingly looking for ways to ensure that their products are eco-friendly and less toxic, and consumers are more aware than ever of the impact their choices have on the world.
Sustainable fashion is not just about using organic materials in clothing; it is also about using renewable energy in production, recycling, and designing for the future. Many companies have shown a shift towards being more sustainable by pledging to support environmental causes with their advertising campaigns or by pioneering innovative methods like 3D printing that will reduce waste in the long term.