Can Fast Fashion be Sustainable?

Changes in Fast Fashion:
Sustainable fashion is a growing phenomenon that holds the ambition to provide clothing that is kinder to the environment. Fast fashion industries for the past two decades have been producing catwalk fashion quickly, cheaply, and unfortunately with significant environmental effects.
Fortunately, this changing, as fast fashion brands are recognizing the demand for sustainable fashion and corporate giants including ASOS, Zara, and H&M have developed responsible lines. These released lines have introduced recycled and sustainable materials into their production to reduce environmental harm.

But is it Environmentally Friendly?
The industrial giants are making incredible changes to their designs introducing both recycled and sustainable materials. This means that there is less wastage in obtaining materials for clothing, as well as an improved selection of natural materials that do not produce negative effects in extraction and biodegradation processes. Nonetheless, whilst these industries should be praised for their movement into the sustainable world, the speed of their fashion is concerning. Fast fashion is in its nature, fast. This means in order to keep up with the latest trend of clothing is produced at a speed that cannot be sustainable. Examples include fast fashions excess energy consumption, which in 2015 Pulse Fashion Report, was estimated to have released 1,715 million tonnes of C02 emissions, as well as the implications of increased usage of toxic chemicals in agriculture’s effects on human health and the environment.
It is true that in order for fashion to be sustainable, fashion must be slow.

Tips for finding a Sustainable Wardrobe:
If you are unsure if you are buying sustainable here are some tips for key things to look out for:

Materials Used:
Clothing materials can have environmental effects across three main stages: production, usage, and disposal. Textiles can have harmful environmental effects through production with harmful or toxic chemicals, and disposal when considering their ability to biodegrade. However, the most significant and lesser-known stage of environmental harm is the usage stage through washing of clothing. Harmful materials, such as polyester, have significant environmental effects. It is estimated a single wash of polyester clothing has the capacity to release 700,000 microfibers into the ocean.

Here are some key materials to avoid and look for when choosing your clothing:

Harmful Materials:
 Polyester
 Acrylic
 Nylon

Sustainable Materials:
 Bamboo
 Wool
 Hemp
 Organic Cotton

Speed of Fashion:
Industrial giants of fashion producing clothing quickly and in mass production which results in higher waste and energy consumption. To be more sustainable, look for the slower processes in the smaller businesses, this will enable a more environmentally friendly product as well as a unique garment to you.

Many organizations have started to introduce certification of products to guarantee products’ and organizations’ ethics, quality, and sustainability. Key certification criteria to look for include: Cradle to Cradle, Global Organic Textile Standard, Global Recycled Standard, and Certification B Corporation.


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