Earth Month: Why Buying Less And Choosing Well Is Better For The Environment Than Fast Fashion

Are the clothes you are wearing, actual wearing out the world?

The appeal of stocking up for the upcoming summer season with a brand new $5 t-shirt in every color might seem like an excellent idea for budget-conscious shoppers.  However, these $5 t-shirts are actually harming the environment, and their manufacturing is actually part of a human rights issue.

This method of $5 t-shirt is called “fast fashion,” the trendy, throwaway method of selling clothes pioneered by companies such as H&M.  In a world of social media influencers who are indirectly marketing to you with apps such as LiketoKnowit. They are attempting to get you to purchase fast fashion items by invoking a feeling that you will be loved and appreciated by also buying this item which is made out of material that will only last through a few launderings before they lose their shape, color, begin to fall apart and ultimately get thrown in your trash can.

When you can buy a piece of fashion for roughly the same price of a large fancy coffee drink why would you actually feel guilty only wearing it a few times then throwing it in the trash to go to the landfill when it no longer suits you?

Here are six reasons why you should think twice about consuming that “fair” priced t-shirt:

  1. In the US 10.5 million tons of clothing are sent to landfills every year, which is almost 30x more substantial than the Empire State Building.
  2. The average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year, most of which is non-biodegradable meaning it will sit in the landfill long past us.
  3. It takes an average of 7000 liters of water to produce one pair of denim jeans. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of water one person will drink over 6-7 years.
  4. The world now consumes an estimated 80 billion pieces of new clothing each year. Meaning we are going from dressing in four seasons to approximately 52 seasons.  This is almost 400% more then what was consumed just 2 decades ago.
  5. The fast fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year. This is about 5% of total global emissions. That’s more than the emissions created by air travel and international shipping.
  6. Extending the life of a piece of clothing by just an extra nine months through repairing, repurposing or buying second hand reduces that items carbon, waste and water footprint by 20-30%.

Hopefully, by now you are thinking to yourself, “This is awful, what can I do, or how can I make a difference?”

How you spend your money on fashion items is much like casting a vote in an election. By choosing to purchase better-made products that are built to last, means that you will actually be buying less and helping the environment in the long run.  Think silk button-ups, cashmere sweaters, and soft leather boots.  All of these materials are crafted from premium fabrics, that stand the test of time. Real leather from Argentina or Italy, and cashmere from Scotland. These garments may cost more up front, but their life will be longer than just a few launderings or wearings to the consumer.

These well-made items also sell well in a second-hand market when you are ready to clean your closest because if they are well made, loved and cared for they will still have many years left in them for a new owner. 

If you are seeking more information on the fast fashion industry, please watch The True Cost on Netflix. It is an eye-opening documentary that discusses the links between consumer pressure for low-cost fashion and these “fast fashion” brands to compete. 

*Statistics via 7 Billion For 7 Seas*