The Ugly Truth Behind Pretty Clothes

Fast fashion- trendy clothing designed to reflect fashion as seen on runways, made cheaply and quickly so that mainstream consumers can afford it- has become one of the worst causes of pollution. One garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second; more generally, fashion is responsible for 92 million tons of solid waste is dumped in landfills each year. The fashion industry is also the second-biggest consumer of water, producing 20 percent of wastewater while generating more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Additionally, synthetic microfiber pollution is washing up in our oceans at alarming rates, causing nearly 100,00 marine animals to be killed each year by plastic waste. This also means that, now, whenever you eat your favorite seafood dish- sushi, fried catfish fillet- you’re likely eating micro-plastics as well.

Repercussions from this often unacknowledged aspect of the industry extends beyond irrevocably damaging the environment, and also impacts people from all around the globe. Many of the individuals who serve as factory workers for fast fashion producers like Zara, H&M, are, without other options, forced to work in hazardous conditions where they are often exposed to chemicals that cause health complications that last a lifetime. Assuming, they aren’t killed while on the job. Because of low-standards in terms of labor laws, average work hours are long and wages are low. Grueling work schedules often keep parents away from their children, who they don’t want having to endure the same, unforgiving environment. This is just one angle, one perspective. If you desire to know the ugly truth behind pretty clothes, I’d recommend you investigate the process for yourself. That said, a good place to begin is asking the following:  who made my clothes? Were they ethically and sustainably produced? Where is what I’m buying today for $5 going to end up?

So, what am I doing?

I’ve decided to be a more responsible shopper, spending my money with sustainable, eco-friendly and ethical brands, or those making efforts to positively impact society and the environment. I’ve also committed to being more selective and purchasing items I know are high-quality that I’ll be able to keep and wear for a long period of time, and potentially pass down through my family. I’m also very big proponent of vintage shopping and thrifting! Always here for a steal or deal 😏)

When considering a brand for the first time, I investigate who is responsible for production, where and how it’s happening. (HINT: Companies with nothing to hide typically include this information on their website.)

Often times, buying from artisans or locally, means you’re buying from individuals who produce in smaller, limited qualities and are creating by hand themselves or with a small team.

Share your thoughts on this post, or ideas you have on how we all can collectively cut back on pollution generated by fast fashion.