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Hidden Cost of Fast Fashion: How it Hurts Our Planet

Hidden Cost of Fast Fashion: How it Hurts Our Planet

It is no secret that we all enjoy shopping for clothes, especially when they are trendy and affordable. Courtesy of fast fashion, it is now possible to fuel this desire without breaking the bank. But have you ever wondered what fast fashion really means for the environment? It may come as a surprise, but fast fashion is one of the most polluting and wasteful industries in the world. In this blog, we explore the dark side of fast fashion and how it impacts our planet. We will also share our efforts, as a company, to make a positive difference in the fast fashion industry by using sustainable packaging and manufacturing methods.

Fast fashion is based on a business model that encourages mass production and consumption of clothing. To keep up with the ever-changing trends, fast fashion brands use a lot of resources such as water, energy, and chemicals, to make their clothes. Did you know that it takes 2,700 litres of water to make one cotton t-shirt? According to the World Wildlife Fund, this amount of water is enough for one person to drink for two and a half years! Not only does the fast fashion industry use excessive amount of resources, they are also one of the biggest contributors to global warming. It produces around 10% of the world’s carbon emissions; this is more than all the flights and ships combined (UN Environment Programme)!

As fast fashion clothing is cheap and of low quality, they have a very short shelf life. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, around 85% of the textiles produced each year end up in landfills or incinerators. This is a major problem as many of these clothes are made from synthetic fibres, like polyester, which can take hundreds of years to decompose. As they decompose, they release greenhouse gases that worsen climate change. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation also states that the fashion industry generates around 92 million tonnes of textile waste every year, which is equivalent to the weight of 1.2 billion people.

Fast fashion also impacts water quality and quantity. One of the most harmful and toxic processes in the fashion industry is dyeing, which uses a lot of water and chemicals. Approximately 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment, which release toxic substances into water bodies (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe). These chemicals can harm aquatic life, damage ecosystems, and contaminate drinking water sources. Some of the chemicals used in the fashion industry are known to be carcinogenic, allergenic and induce hormonal imbalances (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe). In some parts of the world, textile dyeing, and treatment are responsible for up to 20% of freshwater pollution (World Resources Institute).

Fast fashion not only causes harm to the environment, but also for the people that work in this industry. To cut costs and increase profits, many fast fashion brands outsource their production to countries where labour is cheap, and regulations are weak. This results in poor working conditions, low wages, and human rights violations for the workers, usually women, that make our clothes. Around 75 million people work in the textile and apparel industry, and most of them earn less than $3 per day (Fashion Revolution). Some of them are even forced to work in unsafe and unhealthy environments, where accidents and fires are a common occurrence. The Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, for instance, collapsed in 2013, killing 1,138 garment workers. This was a tragic example of the dangers of fast fashion on the environment, and the individuals that work there. We cannot let these issues go unseen!

As consumers, we have the power to make a difference by choosing more sustainable fashion practices. We can do so by buying less, better and smarter. Here are a few tips to get you started on sustainable shopping:

·  Buy less → reduce your clothing consumption and only buy what you need and love. Avoid impulse buying and fast fashion trends that will be out of style in no time.

·  Buy Better → choose quality over quantity and invest in clothes that are durable, timeless and ethically sourced and produced. Look for natural, organic, and recycled fabrics that are better for the environment and your health.

·  Buy smarter → support brands that are committed to sustainability and social responsibility. Conduct research beforehand and check labels and certifications of the products you buy. You can also shop second-hand, swap, or rent clothes to their lifespan and reduce waste.

At EnvoPAP, we are making a positive difference in the fashion industry by using sustainable packaging and manufacturing methods. We make use of agricultural waste, such as sugarcane and wheat straw, to make eco-friendly paper and packaging products that are biodegradable and recyclable. EnvoPAP also uses renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind to power the production facilities. We are a certified B Corporation, which means that we meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. By choosing EnvoPAP you can support a company that cares about the planet and the people.

eco friendly brown bag

Fast fashion may seem like a good deal at the moment; however, it comes at a high price for the environment and society. This industry consumes too many resources, creates too much waste, pollutes our water, and exploits our people. By buying less, better and smarter, we can reduce our environmental impact and support ethical and eco-friendly brands, like ours. Let’s join the movement and make fashion a force for good.

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