What You Can Do About the Fast Fashion Crisis
We live in a world of fast fashion, where giant retailers like Forever21 and H&M move quickly to get cheap clothing from the runways to our closets in a matter of weeks.
The stuff they manufacture is relentlessly cheap, poorly-made, and is usually made in places where labor standards aren’t anywhere near ethical.
But it’s not just the clothing itself that’s the problem; it’s the sheer volume of it.
Last spring, fast-fashion giant, H&M, launched its so called “Conscious Collection” – a take-back program designed to recycle rejected and outdated clothing items. The problem is this:
With fast fashion speeding up its rate of new trends – launching something new before you’ve even grasped the last one – clothing is outdated before it hits the rack.
“The inexpensive clothing is poor quality, with low resale value, and there’s just too much of it,” said writer Jared T. Miller about the fast-fashion crisis for Newsweek. Our world is overwhelmed.
Why Recycling Isn’t Really an Option
Now you may be thinking, “Why does it matter if we can just recycle it when we’re done?” Here’s the issue.
First, clothing fibers go through a great deal of unnatural processes before becoming clothing. They’re soaked in chemical baths, bleaches and dyes that don’t bode well for the earth when they head to landfills.
Second, buying an item of clothing that you will then toss in a matter of months is a ludicrous waste of money – both to manufacture it and ultimately dispose of it.
What You Can Do Instead
#1: Don’t fall into the fast-fashion trap. Limit your spending on trendy items that come through large retailers and instead purchase high quality articles of clothing that will last you a lifetime.
#2: Just buy less. There’s a common saying that the easiest way to be content is simply to want less. Work on paring down your wardrobe to items that you absolutely love, that fit you well, and that will last.
#3: Work on down-cycling genuinely unwearable clothing in ways that will be useful to you for a while. While it’s not a closed-loop solution, turning old t-shirts or towels into kitchen rags can be a great way to keep textiles out of the landfill for a while.
#4: Support small business and local artisans. Give some of the power to local creators who will make beautiful, lasting things for you. Get items of clothing tailored to fit you through and through so that you don’t give up on them too soon.
#5: Take care of the clothing that you buy! Learn to mend torn or stained pieces and care for them properly so they last. Click for our best roundup of tips for how to extend the life of your clothing here: 5 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Clothing.