Fast fashion seduced us all by making cheap and fashionable outfits. Following the trends and making us believe it is the right way to consume.
This industry harms our health and the environment.
Getting informed on this matter is a very long process and here are the main 3 reasons why this business is harmful and why we should not be involved.
In case you need positive vibes, many small brands do a really good job in making beautiful clothes ethically and sustainably.
1. Fast fashion goes too fast!
The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters! Many brands are simply looking for profit, whatever the cost.
The cost of what? The cost of little workers’ life, consumers’ health, and our earth.
NO ONE SHOULD DIE FOR FASHION!
Clients want to buy cheap and beautiful clothes; the industry wants to sell in quantities and earn a maximum of profits; welcome to FAST FASHION.
Every week you find new arrivals at Zara, every day you receive e-mails, texts and Instagram ads on your phone. On top of that, you follow “influencers” who spend their lifetime shopping to overrun your Instagram feed with their daily looks.
With all of this, how would you resist to consume, consume, and consume … Of course, you cannot! They decide exactly what you will buy, wear, and think without you noticing at all.
How loyal are we to the fast fashion industry?
Let’s play the game!
-Have you ever said “I have nothing to wear” while your closet is full?
-Have you ever bought something because it is the trend on Instagram?
-Have you ever purchased an outfit and not worn it yet?
-Have you ever bought a piece of clothing without checking where it comes from?
-Have you ever bought something thinking “it might be great for a future occasion” and this occasion never came?
-Have you ever bought something just because it is on sale or because it is Black Friday?
Me, I answered yes to all of those questions – what about you?
I was the perfect fast fashion client until I realized that being a client makes me an accomplice in polluting the planet, unthinkable crimes and slavery…. Yes – just that!
We all know that the workers are absolutely not paid enough, they work in very bad conditions, yet we remain very loyal to the fast fashion industry!
This conversation makes everybody uncomfortable. We simply ignore all that knowledge because “this little dress is so cute” or “this is cheap, it’s within my budget” or “I am happy with this brand; they make very good sneakers”.
Be assured that fast fashion is not free, someone is paying!
If you read this article, I guess you want to learn more, and maybe change your habit. I am hoping that this can help you in the process as it did for me!
2. Where are my clothes from?
Most of our pieces come from China, Bangladesh, India, etc. But what happens behind the scene is quite scary!
Have you already asked yourself; Why fast fashion is so cheap? How a T-shirt can cost less than a pizza?
It is quite simple, and we all know the answer; however, it doesn’t stop us from buying it… So, let’s start now!
Scary facts we should know about
Do you remember the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh? In 2013, an unsanitary building collapsed which left 1,130 dead and 2,000 wounded – including children (because yes, children were working there to make lovely dresses). We have all been made aware about the working conditions (me included). Furthermore, many brands were involved, but yet, since the incident – nothing changed… They simply continued with the same old schema! #SHAME
A study by Stern Center showed that on average an Ethiopian worker got €23 per month and around €85 for a Bangladeshi worker in the fashion manufacturing industry. The question is how many days and hours they worked for that!
Here we are – this is the reason why a T-shirt costs less than a pizza!
However, there is a situation worse than that. Yes, it can get worse.
The “Uighurs situation”:
The Uighurs are living in the northwest of China in a region called “Xinjiang” (meaning new borders – all is said…). Also, called “The Republic of East Turkestan”; has been colonized by communist China in 1949. The actual Uighurs’ territory is an autonomous region (such as Tibet…).
However, The Republic of China always coveted this land because of its wealth. The region is especially rich in cotton, and also well known for gas, coal, and petroleum resources. Even so, the main problem against the Uighurs’ is their difference in belief – which is perceived as outlaws, or a terror threat by some governments.
In brief, The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, decided to control the Uighurs population by force. They are sterilizing women, deporting people to the concentration camp (does it remind you something?), selling organs, torturing and murdering them – the list goes on. The Uighur population has been reduced by 85% from 2015 to 2018 and estimated to be around 3 million people detained in the camp. This is GENOCIDE.
The Uighurs are the modern-day slave. They are tortured because of who they are and to get what they have (cotton, petrol, etc).
You still here?
Let’s talk about the relationship between fast fashion and Uighurs!
There are different types of camps, and some of them are made for forced labor (camps are designated education camps by Chinese gov). According to the ASPI report, the shameful list includes 83 well-known international brands that are involved and benefits from the Uighurs’ forced labor. Since 2017, more than 80,000 Uighurs have been transferred to factories.
Intending to make more profits, the brands subcontract suppliers who use slaves. Raphael Glucksmann is a member of the European parliament who gives all his energy to this cause. He regularly informs brands and oblige them to stop these collaborations with evidence. Adidas was one of the first brands to cooperate, however, their famous competitor “Nike” refused! Worried about public opinion and thanks to the social media mobilization, other brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein announced the end of their contract within 12 months.
Check the list of shame
If you want to know more about what is happening to the Uighur, I would recommend you to read a very good article written by Lucy Blakiston.
3. How toxic are my clothes?
After talking about others, let talk about ourselves and the effect the cloths have on our health.
How toxic is it for me?
Too many toxic substances are used to make our clothes. Clothing manufacturers coats items in toxic substances to get a special color or print, to avoid ironing, or to treat the cotton…
Considering that skins absorbs all substances, mainly when we sweat, I’ll let you imagine what a disastrous effect the following has on your health.
Phalates: Used in printing/ Can be the cause of cancer and infertility.
Ammonia: Avoid shrinking/ Very bad for lungs if inhaled
Heavy metals: Used to make polyester/ Can be the cause of infertility and damage liver, kidney, and very harmful for the planet.
Flame Retardants: Used to stop cloths from burning, mostly for child clothing’s/ carcinogens
PFCS: Provides a resistance against washing/ Carcinogenic and toxic for the environment
Formaldehyde: Used to avoid ironing and shrinking/ Carcinogenic
Chlorine Bleach: Help whiten/ Cause asthma
Last and not least, The Glyphosate: Herbicide for the cotton industry/ Very dangerous for workers, can cause skin cancer. This toxic herbicide is also used in the food industry (Interesting isn’t it?)
This was only a small list of toxic substances, unfortunately, there is much more.
Are they trying to slowly kill us? Maybe!
This issue is underestimated and can be very dangerous for our health.
+ TIPS: The ANSES (The French Agency for Food, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety) duly recommend washing cloth before wearing them. The reason for this recommendation is to protect you and your skin from toxic substances present in the fabric.
How toxic is it for the planet?
In addition to this, the fast fashion industry has a strong negative impact on the environment.
Here a simple example with cotton:
To make a maximum of profit from growing cotton, they treat the fields with toxic substances up to 20 times per year. Then, they use around 22,000 liters of water for each cotton kilo. That is the first step to earth pollution. After this process, they need to color the fabric they made. Again, toxic products will be used to reduce the cost, which goes directly to rivers, seas, ocean. The same ocean where the food industry is fishing the fish you will eat for lunch tomorrow.
Do you remember the T-SHIRT that costs less than a pizza? I will now call it the Toxic T-shirt!
The toxic T-shirt will kill children and families working on farms in India, because of the Glyphosate and other substances they spread on the field. It will waste a lot of water and will be full of toxic substances thanks to colors and others! Then, this fabric will travel to Xinjiang, where it will become a T-Shirt, made by slaves in a concentration camp. The TT (Toxic T-shirt) will be traveling again from China to Europe or America to be sold for 10 euros at a famous fast fashion shop.
One day, heaven forbid, you might develop health issues which will be the result of toxic fabrics on your skin, as well as all the crap that we eat from food industries and the polluted air we breathe. Thanks to those industries that prefer profits than ethics.
Lucky for us, many unknown brands do a great job by making sustainable clothes that are good for your health, and the planet. They also design and create clothes in good conditions and provide the right salary for their workers. It is the example for other fashion companies that if they want to make it – well, they can!
Many labels help us detect ethical and sustainable brands. Such as the GOTS Label.
It took me weeks to get myself informed on this major matter. It took me only a few minutes to realize the damage they are doing to others, us, and the environment.