Fast Fashion: The Price we pay

In a world of decreasing attention spans and increasing digitalisation, fast fashion has found its niche in the marketplace, and has engrained itself in the mindset of young adults. The rapid changes in fashion trends means that yesterday’s clothes are already in the bin to make way for the trends of tomorrow.

Photo credit:  The True Cost

Photo credit: The True Cost

Fast Fashion is often seen as a great equalizer. Low-cost clothing collections align with current luxury fashion trends and give consumers a way to mimic celebrities and influences they follow on Instagram at a fraction of the cost. The focus on speed and low costs by fashion companies in parallel with the new age of rampant consumerism has resulted in the creation of a huge footprint by the fashion industry. Here are just a few of the devastating impacts fast fashion has on both the environment and health:

Textile dying is the second largest polluter of clean water globally, after agriculture.

20 percent of all freshwater pollution is made by textile treatment and dying. Toxic chemicals wash into waterways and enter the ecosystems and become a major source of pollution. This disproportionately affects those living in developing countries where the factories are generally located. 

Photo credit: 7 News - The blue dogs of Mumbai (swimming in rivers contaminated with clothing dye). 

Photo credit: 7 News - The blue dogs of Mumbai (swimming in rivers contaminated with clothing dye). 

Toxic chemicals and dangerous work conditions put factory and garment workers at risk.

Chemical exposure among factory workers can range from acute – irritating your skin and causing rashes or breathing problems – to chronic – cancerous – and can ultimately lead to death. Many garment workers globally live in poverty and are therefore subject to exploitation: verbal and physical abuse and working in unsafe and dirty conditions. In April 2013, 1,134 people were killed and more than 2,500 injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh in a completely preventable disaster, and is only one example of how dangerous these conditions can be.

Photo credit:  Greenpeace

Photo credit: Greenpeace

Fast fashion industry's emissions footprint is enormous.

There is no way to truly gauge just how much fuel is used in shipping materials and clothing globally. Raw materials can come from China, India or the U.S. and be shipped to places like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Pakistan and the Philippines. Then, garments are put in shipping containers and sent by rail, container ships followed by rail and trucks to the retailer and now, with the rise of online shopping, often to the customer. Considering the sheer volume of clothing created every year, the fast fashion industry’s contribution to carbon emissions is undoubtedly large. In fact, the ethical fashion forum estimates that around 73 tonnes of textiles were wasted in 2014, with an expected grow rate of nearly 4% a year.

Fashion Revolution

Fashion Revolution

In the past 30 years, there has been a change in how we approach fashion: We are buying more and spending less, but nevertheless, we are paying a price. People don’t often think of the path their clothes took to get to their closet, but we need to begin to do so. We need: A Fashion Revolution! And on April 23th to May 9th it is Fashion Revolution week across the world. Here at Nu, we will be taking part in the Kitty Ferreira popup in London for 2 weeks. Here is a link to the launch: 

We'll be running two major events over the week too! 

And if you’re not based in London, don’t worry- there are Fashion Revolution events all taking place around the world, be sure to check out what’s happening near you and if nothing is- maybe you could host something?