2015 In Review: A Year Without Fast Fashion
Happy New Year, everyone! As 2016 begins and 2015 ends, many of us start with a New Year resolution. For most, resolutions end up in the (metaphorical) trash by the month’s end. In 2015, I chose to keep my resolution out of both the metaphorical and literal trash. How so? I went a whole year without any fast fashion.
For those of you who have never heard of the term, let me first begin with what “fast fashion” even is. Fast fashion, according to (tried-and-true) Wikipedia, is “a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly in order to capture current fashion trends. Fast fashion clothing collections are based on the most recent fashion trends presented at Fashion Week in both the spring and the autumn of every year.” Yet, fast fashion is so much more than that.
In order to move fashion fast, the 3 trillion dollar a year fast fashion industry (i.e. H&M, Forever 21, Zara, Gap, Urban Outfitters, etc.) exploit humans, animals, and the planet — just to make an extra buck. So, I decided to say NO to fast fashion for a year. Here’s just a little on the industry I decided not to support:
- In the mid-1960s, 95 percent of America’s clothes were made domestically; today, 97 percent are made abroad.
- Bangladesh is the third largest producer of fast fashion, after India and China.
- The average wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is $38 a month, the lowest in the world. The average hourly wage for Chinese garment works is $1.26 an hour.
- More than 100 were killed on November 24, 2013 at a Bangladeshi plant producing garments for companies including Sears and Wal-Mart.
- 1127 people died on April 24, 2013 in Bangladesh after an 8 garment factory, called Rana Plaza, collapsed. J.C. Penny is one of the brands whose clothing was made at this factory. Workers had complained of seeing cracks in the walls.
- 85% of fast fashion workers are women.
- In India, the second largest exporter of fast fashion, 55 million children (ages 5 to 14) work full-time.
- Most all sheep sheared for wool undergo mulesling, a painful process where large strips of skin and flesh are carved off without anesthetic.
- 80 million sheep are raised in Australia for wool alone, making up 25% of the wool industry.
- Most all sheep bred for wool are eventually killed for meat — often shipped alive overseas to the Middle East and Africa.
- Down (feathers often used in winter coats) is plucked out of live birds, causing considerable pain and discomfort. Most all of these birds are also eventually killed for meat.
- Cows used for leather are often kept in terrible factory farm conditions.
- Animals used for fur are kept in awful conditions and are sometimes anally electrocuted, a barbaric way of killing the animal.
- The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry on Earth, right behind oil.
- 80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased world wide, up 400% from two decades ago.
- Americans throw out 82 pounds of textiles annually.
- Cotton uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides.
- Textile dyes make up 1/5th of all water pollution.
Terrible stuff, right? And that’s just some of the facts. As always, I urge you to do your own research. If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend the documentary True Cost (available on Netflix).
So, did I not buy any clothes at all this past year? Definitely not! I bought amazing pieces from fun thrift stores and essential pieces, like (my go-to) black t-shirts, made out of organic cotton from ethical companies like People Tree and Threads for Thought. If anything, I feel like my wardrobe this year became more unique. Fast fashion is kind of boring really. Who wants to look like everyone else?!
Join me and try shopping second-hand first and buy from companies who commit to sourcing their products organically and ethically. You’ll look beautiful on the outside, and feel beautiful on the inside.