Fast fashion — the mass production of low-quality, cheap, and disposable, yet trendy clothing — has a devastating impact on the planet. “Fast fashion generates more CO2 than aviation and shipping combined”, while as much as 92 million tons of fashion-related waste is thrown out every year. In contrast, slow and ethical fashion that uses sustainable materials like bamboo can help end the fast fashion crisis and leave a positive impact on the planet.
What exactly is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is “fast” in more ways than one — from the design and manufacturing process through to its purchase and delivery to customers. In fact, it typically takes just 15 days for a fast fashion garment to be designed, manufactured, and end up for sale in store. The garments are also usually worn just a few times before being thrown away. In fact, since fast fashion is usually not recycled, a resulting $500 billion is further wasted annually. Although customers play a role in this waste, retailers are similarly to blame as they often throw out or burn unused items.
Lightening your fashion footprint
Despite their problematic nature, a number of big fast fashion brands have made it possible for consumers to lighten their fashion footprint. Some brands for example, have instore garment collection boxes where customers can drop off their old clothing for it to be recycled into new pieces. Some high profile chains also donate three cents per every kilogram of clothing collected towards developing new recycling technologies. Moreover, plenty of smaller, green fashion brands are opting to ethically source their materials and labor — particularly to protect children and ensure no children are used in sourcing and production methods (11% of the global population of children are engaged in child labor). And, if a brand appears on the Fair Wear Foundation’s list of ethical fashion brands, you can rest assured they’re committed to fair labor standards. Participating names are regularly audited to ensure compliance.
Bamboo and sustainable fashion
Centered around sustainability, slow fashion is essentially the opposite of fast fashion. It prioritizes quality over quantity and eliminates waste where possible. In addition to using sustainable materials and producing garments with minimal environmental impact, slow fashion also helps improve worker conditions and positively impacts communities. As such, bamboo is the ideal slow fashion material. It’s naturally renewable with some varieties taking just one hour to grow 5 cm. Bamboo also takes just three years to harvest (instead of up to 20 years like other materials). And, unlike materials that typically require toxic chemicals, pesticides, and insecticides to grow, bamboo grows effortlessly without these treatments. It doesn’t even need regular watering. Moreover, bamboo plantations improve soil fertility and prevent soil erosion, while also emitting 35% more oxygen and absorbing 35% more carbon than trees.
Fast fashion is a growing problem causing significant harm to the environment. By instead opting for slow fashion made with sustainable materials like bamboo, consumers can help solve the multifaceted problem of fast fashion and work towards healing the planet.