Fast fashion has become extremely popular these days and encouraged through influencers like social media posts and advertisements. Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends could be considered the concept of fast fashion. Although fast fashion is normally associated with only a few companies like Shein and Fashion Nova, the reality is most clothing brands and stores that we see today are fast fashion but are not recognized as such like Nike, H&M, and Hot Topic. Another reality of fast fashion is that it is almost everywhere, and its title can be applied to almost every clothing store that is nationwide or popularly known.
In combination with fast fashion came a new trend. Advertisements from fast fashion brands encourage consumers to throw away their fast fashion clothing after about a week or a month or two as opposed to donating them. But what is the environmental impacts that everyone is so worried about when it comes to fast fashion? About 17 million tons of textile waste is generated per year in the U.S., and about 60% of clothes made today are polyester. Once in the landfill, this is the average times it takes for these different commonly used fabrics to disintegrate:
- Cotton: 1 week
- Linen: 2 weeks
- Denim: 10 – 12 months
- Silk: 12 – 24 months
- Polyester: 20 – 200 years
The clothing industry makes up about 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions and uses about 93 billion cubic meters of water to create its clothing yearly. So, what can society change about our lifestyles to make the impact the fashion industry has on our environment less severe:
- Recycle: Instead of decomposing in a landfill, recycling clothing made of natural fibers allows it to be broken down and remade into new clothing. When fabric is recycled it is shredded until it is just little fibers of cotton, linen, denim, or silk. The fibers are then rewoven into new fabric and new clothing is made out of the recycled material.
- Donate: Donating allows clothing to be reused by someone else before it has to go into the landfill or recycling. After being donated, clothing is either bought and worn again by someone else until it needs to be thrown away or recycled or if it is not bought it gets sent straight from the thrift store to a landfill. Although it still ends up in a landfill or in recycling, the clothing is used for the maximum amount of time it could be and prevents a new piece of clothing having to be made to replace it, and therefore reducing its carbon footprint.
- Upcycle: Upcycling is another great way to keep clothing out of landfill. Upcycling can often nearly double the lifespan of a fabric and is a way for upcyclers to create a new clothing piece that better suites their tastes. Upcycling can be anything from adding on designs, doing slight alterations to the initial clothing design, or taking the clothing apart and making something new from it. Upcycling does not change the fact that fabric eventually becomes warn to the point where it is unusable, and it does not save it from eventually going into a recycling center or a landfill.
Here at the Stump Farm, where White Raven Financial is located, we have always been huge advocates for reusing clothing, if you no longer need it then donate it or make it into something else.
Thanks for reading~