What is Fast Fashion?
Have you ever wondered how are we able to put our hands on the
trendiest clothing items, no matter which corner of the world we reside
in? That my friend would be fast fashion for you. In short, it can be
termed as the process of providing the latest fashion collections directly
to the consumer within a handful of days.
To understand this we must revisit the incident of how it all started. So
this term was first believed to be used at the beginning of the 1990s
when ZARA was featured in the New York Times for its mission to
take only 15days for a garment to go from the design stage to being sold
Fast-forward three decades later almost every second brand if
not all, follow this practice including Shein, Urban Outfitters, Boohoo,
Forever 21, H&M, Fashion Nova, etc.
Anything trendy which is super affordable is already a huge red flag but
above it all, it doesn’t even take much time. This should raise the
question of how likely it is possible to make it happen with everybody’s safety intent?
Here, are 3 major ways how fast fashion is crushing our earth.
● WATER AND WILDLIFE
According to Forbes, the fashion & textiles industry is a major polluter of
water at all the stages of the value chain, starting from the agricultural
runoff from cotton fields causing algal blooms that choke aquatic life, to
the dying process where it releases a variety of toxic chemicals to the
sea and not to mention the washing of clothes and releasing
Allegedly, it takes 700 gallons to produce one cotton shirt
and 2000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans. Now that’s a
Moreover, 80-90% of the water used is released into the sea untreated.
Not to mention, the sufferings of wild animals. Fast fashion kills wildlife
and puts endangered species at risk. The brutal process of trapping,
farming, and skinning wildlife for the sake of wool, silk, fur, leather is
More and more awareness is being spread about it but we still have a
long way to go.
Each year the fashion industry is responsible for more energy than all
international flights and maritime shipments combined. Which in return
contributes 10% of the global greenhouse gas emitted, only behind the oil
and gas industry which makes it the second-highest producer. Isn’t it
Additionally, it takes 10 times the amount of energy to produce 1 ton of
textile than the production of 1 ton of glass.
Electricity is one of the most commonly used types of energy consumed by the textile supply chain. The International Energy Agency estimates that final energy consumption in the supply chain doubled between the years 1971 and 2004. Electricity is needed to run machineries such as sewing machines and air pumps in
textile factories. Huge amounts of heat are needed for washing, drying, and
dying the cloth.
When we come across the phrase fast fashion and its threats, labor
exploitation is less likely to cross our minds as one. Increasing demand
to produce clothes inexpensively doesn’t usually cover the cost of a safe
work environment and labor wage of production leading to underpaid
workers, who work in an unsafe environment.
So, the brand has turned to countries like Bangladesh, Mexico, and
China or nations that don’t have adequate labor laws, or the laws they
do have aren’t always enforced, and government conspiracy and
corruption often limit the government’s attempts to execute the existing
They either illegally smuggle and lure people from these countries
and force them to work in these unsafe environments for lower than
minimum wage. Or they opt to hire a middle man and run a factory in
one of these countries importing raw materials and exporting finished
goods but either way, it’s the workers who end up with the short end of
A prime example would be The Rana Plaza Incident in Dhaka, Bangladesh
which catastrophically crumbled into ruins in May 2013, killing more than
1,100 workers and injuring at least 2,000 workers. This disaster has
caught the media’s attention and heightened the awareness in
consumers but many are still under the drapes.
Help Niswarth – The Selfless reach more people and help the communities around India by donating an amount and contributing with a selfless gesture. We continue to strive for a better society and an earth-centric world.
So, now when you come across products that are extra affordable you can
think about the huge cost our environment has paid so that it could be
Fast Fashion is not entirely unstoppable, it’s mostly in the hands of the
consumer. A little bit of research goes a long way. Researching about the
brand before purchasing, using sustainable materials for clothing, also
thrifting can make us a little more environmentally responsible consumers.
There is also a process of relaxation on excessive production,
overcomplicated supply chains, and mindless consumption termed as ‘Slow
Fashion’. It is the reaction to ‘Fast Fashion’ which encourages
manufacturing that respects people, animals, and the environment.
We can always be a little proactive and take these tiny steps towards the green fashion industry. Maybe after that, we would be a little closer to our goal of reversing climate change and essentially ‘saving’ our planet