So, what is fast fashion? Fast fashion generally refers to inexpensive, poorly constructed clothing and accessories that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet new trends.
Why is fast fashion so popular?
- Inexpensive: Compared to the 1960s, consumers now pay less for fashion items.
- Speed: Four fashion seasons a year have been swapped out for upwards of 20.
- Celebrity Endorsements: Consumers respond to celebrity endorsements and buy more.
- Social Media and Marketing: Once an item is worn on social media the sentiment is that it can never be worn or seen in public again, shortening the typical life cycle of clothing.
- Disposability: Normal clothing life cycles are shortened, equalling more waste.
The Environmental Effect
We at Purse for the People are dedicated to doing the business of fashion better. Today’s fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world after the oil industry. But there is one particular resource that fast fashion is guilty of squandering.
Plastic microfibers that shed from polyester clothing in the washing machine are entering oceans at about half a million tons per year (this is the equivalent of about 50 million plastic bottles). These plastic microfibers are eaten by aquatic wildlife and travel up the food chain, where they are eventually eaten by humans. The fact is, microplastic fibres will never decompose completely. They also attract and collect other chemicals such as DDT and PCBs . This intensifies the negative environmental and health impacts of polyester textiles. The outdoor clothing brand Patagonia offer some excellent solutions here on their blog.
Untreated toxic waste water from textile factories is dumped directly into nearby waterways. This wastewater contains toxins such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and more, which is extremely harmful to marine life and, of course, humans. Higher production rates at cheaper costs can only be accomplished by not incurring the normal costs of proper water treatment and care for the environment. The textile dyeing process alone accounts for most of the water consumption in producing a garment. Clothing is often washed with chemicals such as wrinkle or stain resistance.
Cotton is a class E fibre, meaning it is in the least sustainable bracket. It can take up to 2,700 litres of water to produce the cotton needed to make just one t-shirt. Worldwide, cotton uses 16% of the world’s pesticides and is considered the planet’s “dirtiest crop”. Eight of the top ten pesticides most commonly used in US cotton production were classified as moderately to highly hazardous by the World Health Organization. These chemicals find their way into ground water where they can accumulate after repeated crop applications.
Better Cotton Initiative is trying to educate farmers on reducing water and chemical use.
We are consuming and dumping clothes at a rate never seen before. The average American discards 81 pounds of clothing per year. This totals 26 billion pounds per year. 80% of clothing could be reused by consumers, but is typically discarded.
We at Purse for the People believe in the #slowfashion movement. This means we use materials and processes that take into consideration the health of our planet and people. We use natural biodegradable materials or recycled materials, and we create high-quality products made to last longer. Our innovative manufacturing process known as Mass Customization also results in zero overproduction of our product, conserving resources and minimizing waste.
We believe in innovating new ways to create products and processes with nature as our guide, using principles of biomimicry and the Circular Economy. By using the natural systems of the earth as our guide, we can generate materials, products, and systems that are regenerative in nature, adding value to our planet’s economy and people.
Moving forward, we pledge to explore, use, and innovate with these sustainable materials:
- Organic bamboo
- Lyocell fibre
- Organic hemp
- Organic linen
- Organic soy
- Organic Cotton
- Bark Cloth
- Water Hyacinth
*Random Fact: On August 1st, the global population reached our overshoot day. This means we have used as much from nature as earth can renew in one year.