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How Does Fast Fashion Relate to Climate Change?

How Does Fast Fashion Relate to Climate Change?
Cambodia Economy Garment Factory - Jun 2013

Photo: Mak Remissa/Epa/REX/Shutterstock. This photo shows female workers in a Cambodian garment factory.

Why worry about fashion? It doesn’t affect the environment. This is the number one misconception in our society today. The sad truth is the fashion industry affects more than the environment. It affects the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. Besides the fact, the clothes you wear are immersed in chemicals and dyes that seep into your fragile skin.

The evolution of our climate is occurring at the cost of humans. It is pretty simple. Our beautiful planet was created with natural resources, bountiful beauty, and diverse life. We as humans is just a part of the fragile ecosystem, have used and abused our power. We have consumed without limits. From overly extracting and using natural resources, excreting dramatically large quantities of carbon emissions, and giving back our Earth toxic waste in landfills. We are the reason the second largest pollutant in the world right behind the oil and gas industry is the fashion industry.

From Seed to Fabric

From seed to fabric, the process of creating a garment is toxic. Let’s think about the process to create a piece of garment. Fabric is created mostly from natural fibers that come from the Earth. The Earth is impacted by faster and more efficient production of these fibers by human pesticides and GMO’s. These toxic chemicals are washed into our lakes, rivers, and deep into our soul as part of the farming and harvesting process. The water is then consumed by us, wildlife, and vegetation. Therefore, we are endangering not just ourselves, but the entire ecosystem of our planet.

Dyeing

According to Greenpeace, the dyeing process in the fashion industry uses 1.7 million tons of various chemicals in the entire process including hazardous chemicals like PFCs (class of chemicals used to repel oil and water from clothing, toxic in consumption), heavy metals, ammonia, phthalates, and formaldehyde. Due to lack of quality control and the need for quicker production in fast fashion, many factories lack the resources and time to effectively manage their runoff. Therefore, these toxins end up in our waterways. Opposite to polluted waters, there is water consumption. Every year, 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced, and a single pair takes 7,000 liters of water to produce. To produce a t-shirt, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make just one – that’s equal to the amount of water an average person drinks over the course of 900 days (Greenpeace)!

The fashion carbon footprint is tremendous. Determining the size of that footprint is a challenge like no other due to the variation in one garment to another. We must take into account not only the obvious pollutants – the pesticides used in farming, the toxic dyes used in manufacturing, and the amount of waste from discarded clothing – but also the immense quantity of natural resources used to extract, farm, harvest, process, manufacture, and ship clothing. When we understand the cycle, we are able to create change.

Let´s Change It

It is in the power of the consumers to make the change and eliminate fast fashion. The fast fashion industry is going to continue to supply the demand of the consumers. But as consumers, we get to be the deciding factor. It is our duty to our planet to push back and protect our resources, ask the right questions, know how and where our clothes are made, buy less but better, choose ethical, sustainable, and responsibly made clothes, and educate others. If we don’t and we limitlessly consume our Earth’s resources while only giving back toxic waste, we will destroy our ecosystem, and deplete animals, plants, and other living matter into extinction. As legendary fashion designer Vivienne Westwood says: “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”

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Nicki Patel
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Nicki Patel is the founder of milo+nicki, a cruelty-free, ethically designed womenswear line designed to empower the ever-evolving woman to conquer her fears and pursue what sets her soul on fire through the vibrant colors of Nicki’s culture, traditions, and life experiences. milo+nicki advocates for gender equality, sustainable living and animal rights through conscious, cruelty-free design and manufacturing in the USA. Nicki is also a personal stylist, avid runner, and animal lover. Learn more about their story and pre-order their first collection at bit.ly/weareunstoppable.

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