Walking into a store whose label everyone knows, looking at all the new collections, knowing you’re more than likely to find your size because there’s dozens provided... well, it can be comforting.
Looking at the price tag and seeing how much your wallet would love it is also rather uplifting.
But only for shoppers like you.
The truth is... large clothing brands with cheap clothes have an unethical, unsustainable hub brewing beneath the neon colors and synthetic fabrics. Their workers are often put in unstable working conditions, paid minimally, mistreated or simply are underage children who were tricked into working the factories or sweatshops.
Moreover, the fabrics are horrible for the environment.
Business Insider reports that “the fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity's carbon emissions,” polluting the earth’s bodies of water with microplastics.
And it all comes from this culture of “fast, fast, fast.”
On average, “85% of all textiles go to the dump each year,” and the 500,000 tons of microfibers that get released into the ocean each year from washing our clothes is equivalent to “50 billion plastic bottles.”
And to seal the last nail on the coffin, fast fashion companies like Zara, H&M, Forever 21, etc. make clothes out of unsustainable fabrics like spandex, nylon or polyester which release “two to three times more carbon emissions” than sustainable fabrics. Polyester does not break down in the ocean.
The New York Times found similar research, reminding us “that the textile industry has always been one of the darkest corners of the world economy,” contributing to mistreatment of workers alongside the aforementioned environment belittling.
Take the2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, where a factory explosion took the lives of 1,100 workers and injured another 2,500.
“And this was not a one-off,” the Times reports. “Between 2006 and 2012, more than 500 Bangladeshi garment workers died in factory fires.”
This is because many of fast fashion’s workers reside in unsafe working areas where worker rights are neglected. These big companies want cheap labor in cheap facilities with no inspection or care.
But did the world care? Apparently not.
That same year $340 billion went down fast fashion’s pipe, with the clothes the money was spent on still produced in Bangladesh, right by the “Rana Plaza workers in the days leading up to the collapse.”
It’s not just Bangladesh. Garment workers anywhere are often “forced to work 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. During peak season, they may work until 2 or 3 am to meet the fashion brand's deadline,” according to Sustain Your Style.
And it only gets uglier.
Around 168 million children in the world are the hands behind the stitches in fast fashion clothes.
“In South India, for example, 250,000 girls work under the Sumangali scheme, a practice which involves sending young girls from poor families to work in a textile factory for three or five years in exchange for a basic wage and an lump sum payment at the end to pay for their dowry,” the article reports.
It’s time we put our foot down on a world that has smothered lives of workers for decades as well as eroded the environment and earth we live in.
There are so many ways we can stop contributing to fast fashion— each individual in our consumer economy plays a role.
Here’s what you can do:
Buy used clothing from thrift stores or vintage shops
Buy items from local businesses and leave great reviews online to inspire others
Tell others about fast fashion and encourage them to buy from local businesses that take care of their workers and make their clothes from sustainable fibers whether it be through word of mouth or on social media
Purchase one-of-a-kind items that aren’t made in bulk— these items are not made in factories or sweatshops
So, quit the fast with things that last— and don’t release plastic or support child labor or employee mistreatment.
The power is in you!
A Note From YourMadeinItaly
We at YourMadeinItaly want to put an end to fast fashion but we can’t do it ourselves. We do what we can by having built our network of Italian artisans that make all items from scratch.
The products we make here are never made of polyester and never are made by the hands of underpaid workers or children.
We care about our artisans as well as our customers. We are a local business that does our best to provide beautiful, hand-made items— all crafted with attention, passion and care.
Should you choose to ever forego fast fashion, let us know! We’d love to work on a project for you and provide artisan-made products that support our local Italian community.
Let’s quit this fast together!