Fast Fashion's Environmental Impact: Worth is the cost?

Fast Fashion's Environmental Impact: Worth is the cost?

The fast fashion industry is booming. It is now a $100 billion industry, growing rapidly, but what is fast fashion's environmental impact? Unfortunately, this fast-paced, disposable fashion trend has some serious environmental consequences.

This blog post will explore the negative effects of water usage, microplastics, energy consumption, and social media in the fast fashion industry. We will also look at why fast fashion is bad for the environment and discuss some sustainable fashion alternatives to fast fashion (like us at State of Matter)..

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is a term used to describe inexpensive, mass-produced clothing. Fast fashion companies like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are known for their low prices and trendy styles. However, fast fashion comes at a cost.

This global fashion industry has been criticized for its negative environmental impact. Fast fashion garments are often made from synthetic materials like polyester and nylon derived from fossil fuels. These synthetic materials are not biodegradable and release harmful chemicals into the environment when manufactured.

In addition, fast fashion garments are often produced in developing countries where environmental regulations are lax or nonexistent. This means that fast fashion brands can get away with practices considered environmentally destructive practices in developed countries.

Why is fast fashion so popular?

Unfortunately, fast fashion is popular worldwide because it produces cheap and fashionable clothing. In a global economy, fast fashion brands can keep their prices low by manufacturing their garments in countries where labor is cheap.

Another reason fast fashion is popular is that social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have made it easy for people to find and share fashion inspiration. As a result, people are always looking for the next trendy item to add to their wardrobe.

Finally, fast fashion is popular because it is convenient. Fast fashion brands have built their business model around the concept of convenience, offering easy online shopping and in-store pickup.

What is fast fashion's impact on the environment?

Fast fashion is increasingly coming into the spotlight for its terrible environmental impact. The fast fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world.

Below is a list of just a small number of the damaging fast fashion environmental impacts:

Negative effects of water

The fast fashion industry is the second largest water user in the world, after agriculture. It takes about 1,800 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans.

Moreover, the dyes and chemicals used in clothing manufacturing are often released into waterways, polluting them and causing harm to local ecosystems. Wastewater from textile factories contains high levels of toxic chemicals that can pollute our rivers and lakes - harming plant life, wildlife, and even humans who rely on these water sources for drinking and bathing.

So, while we might not immediately think about it, the fast fashion industry has a massive impact on water resources worldwide.

Reliance on plastic fibers

Fast fashion garments are often made from synthetic textiles, such as polyester and nylon. These fibers are derived from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource.

Not only does this mean that fast fashion garments have a large carbon footprint, but it also means that they will eventually end up in landfill sites, where they will take hundreds of years to degrade.

At State of Matter, we are doing the opposite. Rather than adding more plastic in landfills, we are taking plastic bottles and recycling them by turning them into fabric. Our Oceaya Polo, for example, is made up of 11 recycled bottles.

Microplastics Pollution

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are less than five millimeters in length. They are often used in manufacturing fast fashion garments, as they help make fabrics more durable.

However, microplastics are a serious environmental pollutant. They often end up in our oceans, where marine animals can ingest them. This can cause digestive and reproductive problems and, in some cases, death.

It is estimated that there are more than 51 trillion pieces of microplastics in our oceans, and most of these come from fast fashion garments.

Energy consumption

The fast fashion industry is also responsible for a huge amount of energy consumption. It takes a lot of energy to produce fast fashion garments, from growing the crops used to make fabrics to transporting finished products worldwide.

It is estimated that the fast fashion industry accounts for more than two percent of the world's energy consumption. This is a huge amount of energy, and it significantly impacts the environment.

Carbon Emissions

Not only does the fast fashion industry consume a lot of energy, but it also has a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are responsible for climate change, and the fast fashion industry is one of the leading contributors to this global problem.

The fast fashion industry is estimated to emit more than 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide yearly. This is equivalent to the emissions from more than 250 million cars.

Chemical Pollution

The fast fashion industry relies heavily on chemicals, from the pesticides used to grow crops to the dyes and finishes applied to garments. These chemicals can pollute our air and water, and they can also have harmful effects on human health.

Some of the most common chemicals used in the fast fashion industry are known carcinogens. This means that they can cause cancer.

Deforestation & Biodiversity loss

The fast fashion industry is also responsible for deforestation. Many fast fashion garments are made from wood products like rayon and viscose.

To produce these materials, trees are cut down and turned into pulp. This pulp is then used to create the fibers. This process requires a lot of water and energy, resulting in the loss of valuable habitat for wildlife.

Loss of soil fertility

The fast fashion industry also harms soil fertility. This is because the chemicals used in fast fashion production can leach into the soil, where they can pollute water supplies and damage plant life.

Soil pollution can also lead to biodiversity loss, killing off plants and animals that rely on healthy soil to survive.

Textile waste

The fast fashion industry creates a lot of textile waste. Every year, billions of fast fashion garments are produced, most of which are only worn a few times before they are discarded. This means a lot of textile waste is in landfill sites worldwide.

On top of this, fast fashion garments are often made from low-quality materials that are not designed to last. This means they fall apart easily and end up as waste even sooner.

All of this textile waste has a serious environmental impact. It takes up valuable space in landfill sites and can release harmful chemicals into the environment.

How much waste does fast fashion create?

The fast fashion industry creates a lot of waste. Every year, billions of fast fashion garments are produced, and most are thrown away. It is estimated that somewhere around 10,000 items of clothing are being sent to landfills every five minutes.

Human rights violations, Environmental injustice, & poor working conditions in fast fashion

The fast fashion industry has been accused of numerous human rights violations. These include forced labor, child labor, and dangerous working conditions.

Many fast fashion garments are produced in developing countries, where workers are often paid very low wages. This means that they can't afford to live on their own, and they

Social impacts

The fast fashion industry has several negative social impacts. One of fast fashion's most significant social impacts is how it treats workers.

Most fast fashion garments are produced in developing countries, where labor is cheap, and regulations are lax. This means fast fashion companies can get away with paying workers very low wages.

In some cases, workers are paid so little that they cannot even afford to feed themselves or their families. This often leads to workers being forced to work long hours, as they need to earn enough money to survive.

Child labor

The fast fashion industry relies on child labor to produce its garments. It is estimated that more than 250 million children are involved in the global textile and clothing industry.

These children often work long hours in dangerous conditions for little pay. They are also at risk of being exposed to harmful chemicals and pollutants.

Dangerous working conditions

In addition to child labor, the fast fashion industry relies on workers to be in dangerous working conditions.

Many pieces of clothing are produced in garment factories that are not up to safety standards. This means that garment workers are at risk of being injured or killed if a fire or other accident occurs.

Why is fast fashion unsustainable?

The short answer is that fast fashion is unsustainable because it relies on a business model of consumption that generates a large amount of waste while also exploiting workers in the garment industry.

The longer answer is that the problems with fast fashion are many and varied. To start, the business model is based on producing large quantities of clothing very quickly and cheaply, which encourages over-consumption and drives down the prices of clothes. This leads people to buy more clothes than they need, most of which are thrown away after being worn only once or twice.

In addition to generating waste, the fast fashion industry also harms the environment. The production of synthetic fibers like polyester requires a lot of energy and water, and the chemicals used in these processes can pollute the air and water. Fast fashion is also responsible for deforestation, as trees are cut down to make way for crops used to produce textile fibers.

Why we need to focus on changing the way people think about fashion

The fast fashion industry is not sustainable, and it needs to change. But the way we think about fashion also needs to change. We must move away from the idea that clothes are disposable and that we must constantly buy new things.

Instead, we need to focus on buying fewer and better-quality clothes that will last longer. We also need to think about how our clothes are made and their impact on the environment and the people who make them.

How do I help in the movement for change?

Many things can be done to address the problems with fast fashion.

On an individual level, people can choose to buy less fast fashion and instead invest in higher-quality, sustainable clothing. 

People can also support companies working to improve the fast fashion industry, such as those using sustainable materials or fair trade practices.

Knowing the materials used to make clothing, such as organic cotton, and where they come from is also important.

How organizations can help in the movement away from fast fashion

On a larger scale, governments and businesses can work together to create policies that will help reduce fast fashion's harmful environmental and social impacts.

Governments can create incentives for companies to use sustainable materials, or they can set standards for working conditions in the garment industry.

Businesses can do their part by sourcing sustainable materials, paying workers a livable wage, and ensuring that their factories are safe.

How State of Matter Apparel is leading the way in sustainable fashion

We at State of Matter Apparel felt that we could not follow the same old fashion industry practices. It's well known by now that the industry has had and continues to have a major negative impact on the environment.

We could not in good conscience bring more apparel into the universe without helping lead the industry into new practices. Like they say, "Be the change you want to see." 

We decided to use sustainable materials in all of our products. We also participate in fair-trade practices and pay our workers a livable wage.

In addition, we are constantly working to improve our environmental footprint by reducing the amount of water and energy we use and by investing in renewable energy.

We believe that fashion can be sustainable and are working to lead the way.

Final thoughts

These fast fashion environmental impacts are extremely damaging to our planet and its inhabitants, including us. We need to be aware of the fast fashion industry's impact on the environment and take action to reduce its negative effects.

We can do this by supporting sustainable fashion brands like State of Matter, and demanding change from the fast fashion industry.

The fast fashion industry is not sustainable, and it needs to change. But the way we think about fashion also needs to change. We must move away from the idea that clothes are disposable and that we must constantly buy new things.

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