Fast Fashion, the fashion that harms humanity and the environment

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Fast Fashion, the fashion that harms humanity and the environment

Written by Valentina Isernia

Cheap clothes seem like a golden opportunity for easy access to fashion. The fast fashion phenomenon is flooding the planet with waste, endangering entire ecosystems and people's health.

In the fabric of contemporary fashion lurks a dark hell that stretches from the deserts of Chile, whose dunes are dotted with used clothing dumps, to Bangladesh, where sweatshop labour in garment factories reaches inhumane conditions. Fast fashion, with its unsustainable production and devastating impact on the environment, is shaking the very foundations of our planet.

What is fast fashion?

The term “fast fashion” refers to a production and consumption model in the garment industry characterised by fast and frequent production cycles, with the aim of offering consumers affordable products as quickly as possible. Products often inspired by the latest fashion trends and distributed through a global network of physical shops and online platforms.

It is a model that is often resource-intensive – from the production of fabrics to the distribution of products – and can have negative impacts on the environment and people, such as pollution due to overproduction and toxic and synthetic materials such as polyester and its derivatives.

The main driver of fast fashion is a marketing strategy that creates a desire for new creations at very low prices, but makes these garments disposable, both in terms of quality and the ease with which they can be replaced.

Junk, full wardrobes

In 2023, Will Media and Sky produced a docu-series entitled “Junk – Full Wardrobes”, available for free on YouTube, which shows us the abyss into which fast fashion is plunging the Planet. The co-author of the series is Matteo Ward, a young entrepreneur who defines himself as a “fashion regret” and who left his job at a famous American brand, Abercrombie & Fitch, to found, with Silvia Giovanardi and Victor Santiago, WRAD, with the aim of making consumers aware of the real costs of a product and giving them the possibility of choosing it not only on the basis of price. Today, Ward has become a point of reference in the field of sustainable fashion, helping to raise public awareness of the problems related to clothing production and promoting more ecological and gender-free alternatives with an educational format, which it proposes in schools: “Tormented ourselves by doubts and questions”, they explain in the presentation of the project, “we felt the need to share with all of you the contradictions of our work and the tools we have developed to date to try to overcome them”. The common goal? To redefine, together, the role of clothing in the 21st century”.

Atacama, an open-air rubbish dump

Among the places shown in the Junk series is the clothing dump that has existed on the outskirts of Alto Hospicio, on the western edge of the Atacama Desert, for some fifteen years. It appears as a huge pile in the dunes, made up of all kinds of clothes, used but also new, amounting to no less than 40,000 tonnes a year.

A place that was covered by the world’s media in 2022.

These mountains of abandoned textiles not only pollute the landscape, but also release harmful chemicals into the air and soil, endangering human health and the surrounding ecosystem.

Easy fashion and labour exploitation

What does the low price of clothing still mean? Cheap and harmful materials, but also cheap labour. Thousands of kilometres away, factories in Bangladesh are bustling with frenetic activity. Here, workers, often underpaid, are forced to work in dangerous and insalubrious conditions. Long working hours and the lack of adequate safety standards endanger the lives and well-being of thousands of people every day.

This does not spare even children. According to the Bangladesh Child Right Forum, some 3.5 million Bangladeshi children are forced to work to help support their families.

Many fast fashion companies manufacture in the Southeast Asian country, including H&M Group, Inditex (owner of Zara), PVH Corp, parent company of Calvin Klein, as well as Levi’s, Gap, Puma, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Despite numerous imports for famous brands, Bangladeshi wages are among the lowest in the world: Tk 8,300 per month. Just over 70 euros.

This has led to numerous protests recently, resulting in violence and deaths between protesters and police.

Necessary measures

Unsustainable production and irresponsible consumption of fast fashion is contributing significantly to climate change, accelerating biodiversity loss, and endangering the survival of many species. In addition, sweatshop labour in Bangladesh is a violation of basic human rights and contributes to perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

What can we do to reverse this trend? It is crucial to change our mindset as consumers and opt for more ethical and sustainable fashion. Shop more purposefully, support brands and companies that adopt responsible and transparent production practices and promote government policies that encourage sustainability in the fashion industry.

It is time to act with determination and responsibility to stop this spiral of destruction and work together to create a more sustainable and just future.

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EASY

Fast Fashion, the fashion that harms humanity and the environment

Written by Valentina Isernia

Cheap clothes seem like a golden opportunity for easy access to fashion. The fast fashion phenomenon is flooding the planet with waste, endangering entire ecosystems and people’s health.

The accelerated development of contemporary fashion hides some dark sides: from huge waste dumps in Chile to labour exploitation in Bangladesh, fast fashion, with its unsustainable production and devastating impact on the environment, is threatening our planet to the core.

What is fast fashion?

The term “fast fashion” refers to a model of production and consumption of clothing very quickly, with the aim of providing consumers with products at low prices as quickly as possible. This model can generate negative impacts on the environment and people, such as pollution through the use of toxic and synthetic materials such as polyester and its derivatives.

Fast fashion uses a sales strategy that aims to create consumer desire with trend-inspired, “disposable”, poor quality and easily replaceable garments and accessories.

Junk, full wardrobes

In 2023, Will Media and Sky produced a docu-series entitled “Junk – Full Wardrobes”, which is available for free on YouTube. The co-author of the series is Matteo Ward, a young entrepreneur who defines himself as a “fashion regrater” and who left his job at a famous American brand to found WRAD with the aim of raising awareness among consumers for the conscious purchase of sustainable products. WRAD has also become an educational project offered in schools: “Tormented by doubts and questions ourselves”, they explain in the project’s presentation, “we felt the need to share with you all the contradictions of our work and the tools developed so far to try to overcome them”. The common goal? To redefine, together, the role of clothing in the 21st century”.

Atacama, an open-air rubbish dump

 Among the places shown in the Junk series is the clothing dump in the Atacama Desert: a huge pile in the dunes, made up of all kinds of clothes, used but also new, amounting to no less than 40,000 tons a year.

These mountains of abandoned textiles not only pollute the landscape, but also release harmful chemicals into the air and soil, endangering human health and the surrounding ecosystem.

Easy fashion and labour exploitation

What does the low price of clothing still mean? Poor quality and harmful materials, but also cheap labour. Thousands of miles away, in the factories of Bangladesh, fashion workers are forced to work in dangerous and insalubrious conditions for very low wages.

Conditions that do not even spare children. According to the Bangladesh Child Right Forum, some 3.5 million children are forced to work to help support their families.

The Southeast Asian country produces clothing and accessories for many well-known fast fashion companies, such as H&M Group, Inditex (owner of Zara), PVH Corp, parent company of Calvin Klein, as well as Levi’s, Gap, Puma, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Despite numerous imports for famous brands, Bangladeshi wages are among the lowest in the world: workers earn 8,300 taka a month. Just over 70 euros.

This has led to numerous protests recently, resulting in violence and death among the demonstrators.

Necessary measures

Unsustainable production and irresponsible consumption of fast fashion are contributing significantly to climate change. In addition, exploitative factory labour is a violation of basic human rights.

What can we do to reverse this trend? It is important to change our mindset as consumers and choose more ethical and sustainable fashion: buy less and choose sustainable materials, support brands and companies that adopt responsible and transparent practices and promote sustainability policies in the fashion industry.

It is time to act with determination and responsibility to stop this spiral of destruction and work together to create a more sustainable and just future for all.

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