Fast Fashion attracted many people because it can be obtained at any time and the marketed prices tend to be cheap. This mode focuses on speed and low production costs in order to produce a new collection inspired by the latest celebrity style trends. The problem is, this mode is considered to have broken through a series of codes of conduct, ranging from labor to environmental issues.
When fashion actors focus on the race supplying stock to thousands of boutiques abroad with products according to trends, cheap labor is deployed in third world countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia. Unfortunately, safety, hours of work, and decent wages for workers are often ignored by producers. In addition, fast fashion production activities also have a major impact on the environment.
The Negative Impact of Fast Fashion on the Environment and Humans
The fashion cycle is no longer guided by the four seasons. In just 6-8 weeks we can change styles with new ones. However, the environmental perspective has been neglected because of the pressure to reduce costs and time to get new products, from the production process to the sales outlets. This mode is criticized for negatively impacting the environment, water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals, and increased levels of textile waste.
Colorful fabrics, prints and finishing fashion fashions are many of which are using toxic chemicals. Textile dyeing is the second largest pollutant in the world — after agriculture — to the cleanliness of water. A number of brand products that have been tested and declared to contain hazardous chemicals are suppressed with the Greenpeace Detox Campaign so they immediately remove toxic chemicals from their supply chain.
Countries in the world prohibit or strictly regulate the use of toxic, bio-accumulative, hormonal and carcinogenic substances. The most popular fabric used to make clothing is polyester. However, this cloth will shed the microfiber when washed in the washing machine and it will increase the plastic content in the oceans.
Microfiber cannot be decomposed completely so that it becomes a serious threat to aquatic biota. The substance may be consumed by plankton which then make a food chain with fish and shellfish and finally eaten by humans. This will adversely affect human health.
In the documentary film titled The True Cost illustrated how terrible the impact caused by the use of chemicals in human health. In the film is told a US cotton farmer who suffered from brain tumors and farm children who are disabled from birth due to use of toxic chemicals when farming cotton.
Cotton trees require high water and pesticides to grow so they do not experience crop failure. However, some brands have switched to organic cotton, such as H & M and Inditex. Unfortunately, the total number of organic cotton users is only less than one percent.
Fast Fashion Threatens the Environment
The fashion industry is worth up to $ 2.5 trillion and the industry is one of the largest water users globally. The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) notes that producing a cotton shirt requires 2,700 liters of water-the equivalent of a person’s drinking water for 2.5 years.
Fashion now tops the agenda for UNECE. The agency intends to promote economic integration and cooperation among its member states, which include European countries, the US, Canada, Israel, and some countries in Central Asia.
At the event held on March 1 in Geneva, UNECE warned that fashion industry practices that continue to produce cheap disposable clothing are “environmental and social emergencies”. During the event UNECE invited several different UN organizations and representatives from the fashion industry.
The event was held to discuss fashion issues and potential solutions. UNECE, through its executive secretary, said that there is a need for a change in the fashion industry so that the impact it provides is no longer threatening the surrounding environment and society.
Based on the ClimateWorks Foundation and Quantis (sustainability consultants) report released last February, the apparel and footwear industries both account for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and clothing climate impacts will increase by 49% by 2030 if no changes are made to fast.
Therefore, consumers should be more conscious at every stage of the buying process, from buying smarter, maintaining and repairing goods, recycling, and finally disposing responsibly. All this is done so that clothes can be used longer. Fast fashion industry is also expected to pay more attention to its supply chain.