It is transparent to all that fashion is an eminent form of expression. It occupies a humongous space in our culture wherein folks willingly spend substantial amounts on clothes to follow the seasonal style. This magnificent amount of money has made the fashion industry one of the highest wealth-generating industries all across the globe.
It goes without saying that clothing is a sign of status in society, and in an attempt to look pleasing, people follow the perpetual pursuit of shopping. No matter how much you adore that pretty pink dress of yours, putting it on more than once to a party feels like a felony.
To avoid such discomfiture, people have drifted more towards the notion of fast fashion to keep up with current clothing trends and to avoid the odds of reiterating their attire by simply switching between disparate styles. This approach has played a prime role in propagating fast fashion.
As a matter of fact, fast fashion is a replica of eye-catchy catwalk trends, contrived from cheap material by employing cheap labour in a short span and sold at a pocket-friendly price. Its marketing model makes cheap clothes covetable. Moreover, a person’s fashion statement is treated as a token of sophistication and a good dressing style is deemed imperative to preserve this societal status.
Simply put, it has become more of a status symbol. Having said that, in this rampant race of looking rich, we are becoming poor and simultaneously degrading our planet. One can easily infer that it is a pressing problem that needs to be dealt with promptly.
Considering this prevalent clothing craze, an apt tagline for Gen Z amid the series of current distressing events would be “all stressed but well dressed”.
In lieu of booking an appointment with a therapist, our generation is inclined more towards splurging on online shopping just to look good on the outside rather than ruminating about fixing cracks on the inside (psyche).
Unfortunately, in this entire process, we are overlooking the abysmal impact of this slippery slope of shopping that is inching us towards the brink of environmental deterioration.
The colossal change in the apparel arena has its own consequences, which are also being faced by the downtrodden who work incessantly up to 72 hours straight in sweatshops without any promise of fair payment.
Moreover, ceaseless cloth production also leads to child labour, human trafficking and forced labour to generate maximum profit at minimal cost by employing cheap labour and using cheap material.
Simply put, fashion retailing follows a complex chain of cloth supplies that poses a serious threat to the environment due to its extreme mode of marketing.
Renowned retailers such as H&M and ZARA are considered symbols of status, creating an unbridgeable gap between the rich and the poor. Furthermore, these brands are primarily greenwashing the masses by duping their customers into believing that their products are eco-friendly and support sustainable fashion by concealing facts.
Fast fashion is subtly stifling the legacy brands because we all want to look rich without actually having to pay that price.
It has been reported that the apparel industry is the second-largest water polluter following the oil industry, which is an alarming factor. Moreover, the colossal consumption of water in toxic textile production triggers an outright concern. This industry is the third-largest discharger of wastewater and the second-largest consumer of chemicals.
One cannot skip the mention of polyester while conversing about clothes. It is a non-biodegradable pollutant and a major cloth component derived from petroleum which is awfully deleterious.
In the past 20 years, the demand for such synthetic materials incorporating viscose rayon has grown exponentially. As a result, the level of microfiber pollution is increasing by leaps and bounds, which is also endangering aquatic life.
In a world where people in disparate corners of the globe undergo destitution and have no access to drinking water, the fashion industry is recklessly drying up vital water resources. Extreme overuse of water for cotton farming is causing cureless damage to the blue planet.
The trend-driven fashion industry, accompanied by the toxic flex culture of social media that tacitly pushes people into believing that their closet is always running out of style, is another contributing factor accountable for the escalation of global warming.
It begets 10% of global carbon emissions along with 35% of predominant microplastic pollution. Furthermore, studies have shown that 87% of clothes are dumped directly into landfills or end up in incinerators.
It is indisputable that fast fashion allows us to enjoy an affordable buy. But no one can deny the fact that it is very much similar to fast food that gratifies our urges for the time being but is actually detrimental in the long run.
Well, the answer is not difficult. The first step to solving any problem is acknowledging its presence. Textile industries ought to take corrective measures and figure out a way of recycling textile waste on a large scale. It is estimated that only 12% of clothing material is recycled.
Thus, it is imperative to act in the nick of time to avert this imminent environmental collapse. To curb this surge of degradation, thrifting comes into play. Thriftworld is a medium through which we can cut this chain of baneful fast fashion pollution and render second life to less-used clothes by simply buying old vintage garments, which can cut down excess cloth production.
Thrifting is gaining momentum in various western countries wherein folks can donate their clothes and thrift stores sell them and use this money for donations. Above all, it is somewhat eco-friendly. If not through thrifting, one can help mitigate textile pollution by simply buying fewer clothes which can make a big difference.
Change precedes awareness and, hence, we need to be aware of how we can bring a change by taking small steps. After all, the onus is on us humans to halt the level of environmental degradation.