“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness” – Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi, an icon of simplicity and non-violence, was capable of seeing the broader picture unlike a common man – a common man is bound by trends and is tempted into making decisions. The fast-fashion industry exploits this weakness of its target market and hypnotizes its consumers into purchasing their products.
Nevertheless, owing to widespread awareness created by social media, people are now moving away from traditions, bidding farewell to their impulsive buying behaviours and thinking twice before investing in fast-fashion. But why is that so?
The fashion industry, based on conventional ideas, is engaged in producing clothing and accessories at the expense of the wellbeing of the ecosystem.
It is engaged in environmental degradation, resource depletion, unfair trading, animal cruelty and workers’ exploitation. It is the second-largest polluting industry of the world after the coal/petroleum industry.
Animal Fur in Fast-Fashion
Since ages, animals have been sacrificed to satisfy the wants of the consumers of various industries, but the fashion industry has an unacceptable approach altogether.
Minks, snakes, foxes, fish, cows, buffaloes, lambs, etc. have been hunted and slaughtered to produce woollen cardigans, snakeskin boots, fur coats, leather jackets and bags and more.
Water Wastage Is A Huge Problem
Surprisingly enough, a factory uses up nearly 2700 litres of water to produce a cotton shirt. This quantity can be consumed by a human being for a duration of 3 years.
Furthermore, nearly 10000 litres of water is wasted in producing cotton for a pair of jeans. More statistics reveal that the garment production sector alone contributes 20% to the global industrially caused water pollution.
Gases Harmful To Our Environment
The mere polyester production in the clothing industry accounts for 706 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emission, annually.
The constant emission of harmful gases in the environment can lead to serious depletion of the ozone layer, leading to global warming and skin problems in humans. This also disrupts the water and gaseous cycles in our atmosphere paralyzing the loosely hung ecosystem.
Land Pollution Stemming From Fast-Fashion
The clothing sector of the world has a lot of waste to dispose of. In fact, 350000 tonnes of fabric waste (or equivalent) is thrown in landfills in the UK, yearly. If a civilized, well-developed country has so much to dispose of, imagine how much the rest of the world will have, including the under-developed regions.
Thus, the move towards more sustainable styling techniques has become inevitable. The more aware generation has shifted towards ethical trends, giving great importance to innovation, consciousness and equality.
So, is it possible that a sustainable parallel to fast-fashion could be found?
Of course, it is. The basic flaws in the existent industry are that it exploits, pollutes, wastes and kills. It is possible to control these actions but very few players want to take that burden and risk.
So did you know, that around 15000 litres of water is used for a 1 kg production of finished cotton fabric?
Conversely, the newer ideas relating to the making of recycled clothing without using chemicals is a water-conserving option. Fibres are separated by colour instead of dyes or chemicals and UV light cleans the older clothes.
It is difficult but not impossible to utilize waste to produce a fabric. Indeed, many conscious market players have introduced a variety of ways in which this can be done. For example, using algae biomass to make lightweight shoe soles, using orange peels to produce a type of fabric like silk and using pineapple leaves to produce a material like leather.
Moreover, dyes have been produced that decompose naturally without polluting the environment by utilizing food waste to make natural dyes for clothes.
Not Filling Landfills
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Recently, many start-ups have made the use of hand-me-down clothing and accessories very trendy.
Markedly, others have taken the initiative to reduce fabric wastage by using online applications to precisely understand the size of customers’ outfits.
A Haven for Living Beings Away From Fast-Fashion
The society at large can benefit from these industrial values. Animals can live and breed freely without the fear of being killed by a luxury clothing manufacturer. And workers can work in better conditions with better wages. What’s more, organic cotton and bamboo can be used for restricting water and pesticide usage.
The concept may incur huge costs, which would result in higher prices for consumers. But the choice is upon us. We can either strive for a better planet or decide to destroy our home to look good.
After all, there’s no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.
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