Fast Fashion VS Slow fashion
Fashion is a big part of our lives, from the moment we enter this world. You might be familiar with the term sweatshops. You might be less familiar with the term ethical fashion or slow fashion. Let’s look at each of those terms, fast fashion vs slow fashion to see how we can make sound decisions that can benefit us, others and the planet.
Have you ever wondered why clothes from brands like H&M, forever 21 and Top-shop are so affordable? Have you ever stopped for a moment to wonder what goes into making your 5 dollars Ts and leggings? Who makes those clothes? In what working condition? How much do they get paid? What impact do those dyes that color your clothes have on the environment? What impact producing the fabrics, the clothes have on the earth?
Fashion is an ever-evolving industry. Consumerism has become the forefront of most economies. Fast trends, high demands, fads have made it a necessity for brands to keep up, but at what cost? Studies show that we buy more than 60 percent that we were 20 years ago . While each article of clothing is worn less . As a result, manufacturers produce more to keep up with fast fashion demand.
Think about it for moment, fast fashion affects all of us, daily. Globally, it affects the environment. The clothing manufacturing factories use harmful chemicals like lead,pesticides to process our garnements. Those chemicals linger in the air and water, they never completely breakdown. The fashion industry as a whole is responsible for 32.1 billions tons of global carbon emissions in 2015. In fact, studies show that the fashion industry has a greater greenhouse gas emission per year that the air travel industry.
Textiles are gorgeous not all of them are natural
Some synthetic textiles like polyesters or natural ones like cotton demand a lot of energy and generate large amounts of waste. 1 ton of cotton uses 65,000 KW of electricity and 250000 liters of water. Most of these resources go to bleaching, washing, and dying the fabric. In countries like Bangladesh, where textile is a major source of the economy, factories take precedent over people where the use of water and electricity are concerned. The process of treating fabrics like cotton in third world countries are partly responsible for drought. Cotton makes up for 11 percent of the use of pesticides worldwide.
The textile industry is one of the dirtiest one in terms of environment. The textile industry produces around 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year. The emission of co2e is largely part of the type of the fabrics manufactured. Synthetic fabrics like polyester is one of them. As a result, some estimate a single polyester t-shirt has emissions of 5.5 kg CO2e, compared with 2.1 kg CO2e for one made from cotton. On the other hand, hemp and Lyocell are great alternatives.
The polluting effects of polyester, which use the same material in plastic bottles, doesn’t stop at manufacturing. Thousands are microplastics are washed away into our oceans when we clean our polyester garments. In fact, 1,9000 of microplastics is the rough amount released from one single polyester garment when it’s washed.
It might seem like a great bargain when you are taking them off the rack, but,what happen to them 5 washes down the road? One just discard those garments that at some point will end up in the landfills as a result of their short lifespan and poor workmanship. Fast fashion has made it easy for people to dispose of unused clothing because it is accessible.
To clarify, poverty, water contamination, destruction of the environment, airborne pollution like gas leaks, and diseases are just a few of the consequences of the fast fashion industry.
What makes ethical fashion so much better than fast fashion?
On the other hand, slow fashion or ethical fashion seems to want to make a comeback. Yes, the price tags are higher. But you get what you pay for! Above all, you are getting high quality craftsmanship and saving money. Subsequently, helping others more destitute to improve their quality of lives. Brands use recycled plastics, fishnets, fruits leftovers to create sustainable and durable fabrics’ and fibers. Other brands are pushing for a circular economy, which means make, use, reuse, remake, and recycle; as opposed to the linear economy where we make, use, and dispose straight to the landfills. Just because it’s out of your sight doesn’t mean the unsalvageable dress you threw in the trash cease to exist.
The slow fashion industry is known for its strong ethical and sustainable manufacturing process. Brands like Bethany Williams, Stella MCcartney, ecoalf design clothes out of plastic bottles, worn-out tires, wastes from packaging materials that would otherwise end up in the landfills.
What qualifies a brand as ethical? What is slow fashion?
When talking about ethical fashion, 3 terms usually come in mind: animal cruelty-free, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible.
Briefly, animal cruelty-free means no animals are hurt directly and indirectly along the process of sourcing, manufacturing, processing, storing, transporting, and selling the clothes.
By the same token,environmentally friendly means the process of making those clothes should disrupt or affect the planet minimally or ideally, not at all.
Moreover, a brand is socially responsible when the people in charge put their money where their mouth is. As a matter of fact, fair wages, fair trades, access to proper and safe working conditions should be a big part of the foundation of such brands.
Additionally, growth margins, sales, and bottom line for profit should be secondary to welfare of the planet, the people, and animals.
Slow fashion has a more sustainable approach to the process of producing clothing. Better quality garments, sustainable sourcing of these materials are indeed a must. Slow fashion brands are usually smaller local brands that produce smaller collection less frequently throughout the year.
With ethical fashion, you get high quality products. Buying ethical fashion is an investment, 15 to 30 dollars for a t-shirt is not for the faint of heart. You must remember you are making a long-term investment. Calculate the true cost. For example, ethical companies like Everlane make it easy to understand why you are paying higher prices by breaking down the process at the end of each garment description. Take a look, it’s quite insightful.
The Key takeaways?
Fast fashion only has two objectives: fill the immediate need for something new at cheap prices and get disposed. Then, move to the next hot trend. Meanwhile, ethical fashion believes in investing in the economy. The better-quality clothing you have, the less you will need to replace them, which will save you money. It is your duty to know who, how, and where your clothes are from. The next time you are at your favorite fast fashion spot holding your next statement piece, ask yourself:” fast fashion vs slow fashion What is the true cost?”