Photo by Priscilla Du Preez
One of the first things we notice about other human being is how they are dressed. Weirdly enough, we would most importantly notice if someone was not dressed at all, but don’t take the time to think about the fact that everyone around us is wearing clothes. Because we all have to dress and we want multiple fashion items, the fashion industry grew to become the second most polluter in the world, only after the oil industry. And an important part of this pollution comes from fast fashion.
Fast fashion is a quite recent term in retail to talk about collections that come quickly from trends seen on catwalk and fashion weeks to stores. Fast fashion clothes are designed, produced and exposed in stores at high speed and low price to allow consumers to buy cheap trendy clothing.
Thereby, production needs to keep up with the demand. If, according to McKinsey & Company’s article Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula, consumers are buying 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2010, obviously, factories have to manufacture 60% more. When we know that it takes 2,700 liters of water to make a cotton t-shirt, and that it represents what a person drinks during 2.5 years, it seems almost unrealistic, but the truth is that is not it. Clothing are usually produced in different countries that it has been designed and will be sold. Logistic add some carbon footprint to the natural resources already used for a piece of clothing.
If the latest decades were about consuming more, we can sure hope that the upcoming decades are going to be about consuming better.
Many companies and businesses are understanding the importance of sustainability, and that every change can make a difference. It starts with the suppression of plastic bags, but can also be the use of recycled materials and so on.
As a customer, our choices do matter, and several alternatives exist for us to be part of a less polluting future. We can use platform to resell our second-hand clothes, give some to charity for people in needs or we can decide to rent clothes instead of buying something to only wear it once. Consumer association and consumer lobbies in the past already proved that our voice can have an impact on global brand decision: cosmetics are progressively stopping the animal testing, many European countries banned fur farming and small local businesses are able to grow thanks to our decision of consumption. Proof is that we are more than important in this industry, so let’s use this power!