Why You Should Quit Fast Fashion

Have you ever noticed that styles and trends seem to come and go fairly quick? Or that a lot of the clothes from bigger stores with cheaper prices seem to be made "cheaper"? Well, that's what one would call fast fashion. And it needs to end. It's completely unethical and unsustainable. Fashion is one of the dirtiest industries in the world and I want to share with you a few things they don't want you to know. Basically it's like this. Once upon a time, there were two seasons in the fashion world: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Now the fashion industry has "52 micro-seasons" and stores come out with new trends weekly. With new styles coming out so often, the goal of fast fashion is for consumers to buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible. There are stores such H&M and Forever 21 who keep the racks up to date with the latest trends... and at a cheap price. Cheap in the sense of money and in the sense of value. These stores sell clothes that are A) cheap as heck which in turn will result in more customer sales and B) so cheaply made that they are almost designed to fall apart, meaning the product won't last long and you'll be replacing it sooner than you thought $$$$. Many people want to keep up with the trends and so they just continue to buy and buy and buy, and as soon as the trend is outdated, they have no desire to wear it anymore. And not to mention, I already know some people grow tired of clothes they own that haven't even worn once. I can't speak for all, but I'm sure there are some of you out there guilty of this. But why should we care so much? Because the average American throws away over 68 pounds of textiles per year, and that's not including donated clothing for charities or thrift shops. That's 68 pounds of clothing that goes directly into the landfills and that's a big problem because today most of our clothing is made with synthetic, petroleum-based fibers and it will take decades for those garments to decompose.

It doesn't stop there though. Fast fashion has a lot of downfalls including ethical and economical factors. There's the exploitation of apparel manufacturing workers overseas. How so? They subcontract manufacturing overseas to the lowest bidder - typically third world countries. The companies don't maintain long-term contracts with the factories, so if the company wants something faster, the factories have to keep up or they lose their contracts. The push to create clothing so quickly leads to putting production schedules and company demands far ahead of the rights and safety of  workers. A perfect example would be the catastrophic Dhaka fire in 2011as well as the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed a combined total of over 1,200 Bangladeshi apparel workers and left many more injured. All a result of faulty wiring, crowded conditions, poor construction and lack of exits. Why is so much clothing manufacturing happening in Bangladesh though? Because rising wages and inflation in China have made producing clothing there prohibitively expensive for manufactures who seek to satisfy U.S. tastes for such cheap clothing. Basically companies are "able" to pay very little in the third world countries. Let us not forget about the child labor involved in fast fashion. Typically. beading and sequins are a great indication of child labor. While there are machines that can apply sequins and beading that look like handiwork, they are very expensive and must be purchased by the garment factory, and it's highly unlikely that an overseas factory would invest in such equipment. You can read more about this in To Die For; Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? By Lucy Siegle. There's a section in the book that goes, “hunched over, stitching and embroidering the contents of the global wardrobe ... in slums where a whole family can live in a single room.” Often with the help of their children, the home workers sew as fast as they can and for as long as daylight allows to embellish and bedazzle the clothes that end up in our closets. Siegle goes on to say, “They live hand to mouth, presided over by middlemen, tyrannical go-betweens who hand over some of the lowest wages in the garment industry.”

Trends are coming and going within a matter of weeks and people feel the need to have the next best thing right away. Women are buying more and more new clothes when they have a closet full, just because a new trend has hit the streets and they want to keep up. Spending all this money to wear something a few times and then replace it with the next best thing. As a society, we have all these factors pressuring us to buy more clothes and more products. Whether it be Youtubers, advertisements and commercials, or social media. A lot of times, companies will pay Youtubers or social media personalities with a high following to feature their products... and of course people will see that and want to try it out for themselves - to see what the hype is all about. That's why I've stopped doing "monthly favorites" or hauls on my blog, granted I've only done a small handful, I felt like it was promoting others to go out and buy more stuff and as a society, we are consuming way, way too much.

How to look for ethical brands? 
It's quite easy. However, you should avoid labels such as "ethical" and "sustainable" because they can be vague and misleading. Instead, seek out the more objective indicators such as who, where, when, how, and what behind the product.  Listed below are a number of things to look for before making a purchase. Here are some things you can look for though:

Fair Trade
The Fair Trade label guarantees that farmers and workers involved in the production process were compensated justly for their work. While it is more of a validation of ethical practices, the nonprofit also promotes sustainable agriculture.

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
Certified textiles contain at least 70 percent organic fibers, and all chemicals used must meet strict criteria. Proper wastewater treatments are also mandatory.

GCC Brand-mark
The GCC brand-mark by Eco Age is a validation for individual products or fashion collections that meet rigorous social, ethical, and environmental standards.

B Corp
This is a more general certification given to companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Eco-label by the European Union
This certification denotes products with reduced environmental effects throughout their life cycle.

This label assures that a brand operates responsibly with respect to people and the planet.

PETA-Approved Vegan
This is a symbol by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) used by companies that make vegan and animal-friendly clothing and accessories.

USDA Organic
The USDA certification is made for organic agricultural practices (like Ecocert, Soil Association, etc.). Therefore, a USDA organic certification for a cotton shirt ensures that the cotton was grown organically but does not guarantee that the shirt is free of toxic finishes.

World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)
The WFTO is a fair trade certification that ensures responsible practices across the supply chain and supports small producers and their communities.

The biggest thing I want you to take away from what you just read is this: Shop smart and shop less. Make the clothes you have last. Be aware of what's going on in the "behind-the-scenes" of your favorite stores. If something has a rip in it, fix it. Mend your clothing. Shop vintage and second-hand. Shop for what you like and what you will get the most use out of. And as always, remember that less IS more. Join the movement.

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