Are you ready for your eyes to be opened? Are you ready to feel a burden of guilt that can be lifted with empowering knowledge?
A few years ago, we too were uneducated about the realities of the fast fashion industry. But we opened our minds, sought out education and truth and now we are here- running a woman-owned company advocating against labor, trade, and environmental injustices.
Is your mind open? Are you ready? Let’s talk fashion! The kind of fashion that gives you a status quo reputation. Fashion that is ever changing and can always be found at “Endlessly 21” (you know exactly what we mean). The fast fashion that fills our closest each season as we toss out last seasons styles. But how many of us actually know what "fast fashion" is? What does it really mean?
Fast Fash•ion, noun,
“inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.”
If we're being honest with ourselves, doesn't that sound a little fun? It sounds like that friend who constantly posts on social media showing off their newest adventure to an exotic location wearing the cutest new clothing in all of their pictures. Don’t lie, we all have that one friend that is regularly flipping their wardrobe and restocking it with the newest styles.
As fun, pretty, and totally chic as those fashionably dressed people seem, is it worth the heartache and gross mistreatment of millions of people globally? It seems strange that something as simple as a mini skirt could cause such a huge problem, but it does.
Not-so-fun-fact #1. In dozens of third world countries, entire families are going to work in factories where our (first world) clothing is being produced. In places like China, Mexico, and Vietnam, childcare is something known only by the elite. Unless parents (or parents and the older children of the family) make enough money to send the younger children to school, these young kids are taken along to work or have jobs of their own.
What about a young mother who's recently given birth? Yes, she's there too with her newborn baby wrapped up in a carrier on her back or worse yet, sleeping on the dirty floor next her.
These people, these families, quite literally make pocket change for the hours and hours of hot, sweaty, and hard labor they do. Even when working twelve or more hours a day, they hardly earn enough to make ends meet. The really shitty part? The CEOs of the companies that are paying the wages of these overworked people make up a large part of Forbes rich list. Clearly, they aren’t hurting financially...
Not-so-fun fact # 2: Fast fashion not only causes major pollution in our landfills, but the production from start to finish pollutes the air we breathe and the water we drink. (Well, not our water...)
With each new trend that moves into our homes, we get rid of the old styles. When we get rid of it, we don't even think about where it all goes! After all, it was just one box or one garbage bag full, right?
Wrong! Our landfills are full. Like, super full. And not just our landfills, but every landfill on this planet is slowly turning our cities and countries into one, massive trash dump.
On average, each person consumes about TWENTY-FIVE pounds of clothing per year, which means that one garbage bag just got a whoooooole lot more significant. Imagine every person’s (that's seven and a half billion people) twenty-five pound bag of clothing being dumped in the landfill. *gulp*
Not only are we polluting our land, but we are treating our water just as poorly. Cotton is the most water-intensive crop. An average of 4,700 gallons of water are required to produce only 2.2 pounds of cotton, which is over twenty times more water than what the average American drinks in one year.
The synthetic materials used in our clothing lose fibers over time and slowly shred. These fibers end up polluting our oceans and killing the marine life. The process of dying these clothes deeply pollutes the water tables of every community that uses the fashion industry as a source of labor. This means that in many communities, children are being born with mental and physical disabilities are higher rates than ever before.
Not-so-fun-fact #3. Aside from the pollution and the garnished wages, the fast fashion industry destroys lives. We don’t mean poverty, neglect, or emotional abuse, although all are equally real. We mean actual destruction of lives- death.
In April 2013, the Rana Plaza Building Collapse became famous for being the world’s worst industrial accident ever recorded. Over 1,000 people lost their lives because the factory managers ignored warnings from workers about the cracks in the foundation. It was more important for the company to continue clothing production than keep their employees safe. Not long after the initial warnings, the factory collapsed with thousands of men, women, and children still inside. Remember that new mother with her baby sleeping on the floor? Gone. Those kids who missed the opportunity of education because they had to work to provide for their families? Dead. Whole families gone in just one avoidable tragedy...for what? So we can maintain an ever growing demand for fashion?
While the tag on a shirt may say $10, the true cost is so much more. The true cost is a child’s education, a baby’s safety, clean air and water, and people’s lives.
The first step to stopping fast fashion and the tragedy it brings with it is simply education! Good job, you can check that off your list! Second step, make a change. We challenge you to vote with your dollar by no longer supporting companies who have poor labor and safety standards! You can easily check a companies ethics by going to their website. If they aren't incredibly forward with their standards by making them easily accessibly on their website, then they most certainly have something to hide. You can also download the Good On You app, where you can search brands and see ratings of their ethic on a scale of one to five! If a brand has poor reviews, boycott them. Only purchase necessities new (undies, socks, etc.) and look for everything else second hand. Even most furniture can be found in good condition second hand! Places like Sharktooth, Milk Folk, Revival, A Touch of Vintage, Boheme Goods, Modern Vintage Home Market, and even Depop are fun places to start!
Step three, stop throwing things away. Instead, donate to organizations and people who really need it. Look for places like men's and women’s shelters, domestic violence and abuse shelters, homeless shelters, churches, local thrift shops, and as a last resort, more well know thrift stores.
Step four, host clothing swaps with friends to trade styles instead of trying to sell your clothing. These events are easy to host and great for community moral. Here is another article with tips and tricks!
No matter how cute that seasonal blouse at your favorite big-box store may be, don’t buy it. It’s not worth the true cost.
Chloe Mikolajczak, 2019, Six things you didn't know about the true cost of fast fashion, https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2019/six-things-you-didn-t-know-about-the-true-cost-of-fast-fashion.html
John Hobson, 2013, To die for? The health and safety of fast fashion, https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article/63/5/317/1451439
Dominic Bliss, 2019, The huge toll of 'fast fashion' on the planet – and why the answer could be circular, https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment/2019/06/the-huge-toll-fast-fashion-the-planet-and-why-the-answer-could-be-circular/amp