Facts Friday #2

What is fast fashion?

And what the heck does it have to do with sustainability?

When we say 'fast fashion', we're generally referring to cheap, low quality, mass produced products, generally made to be used a limited number of times (yep, some groups selling fast fashion INTENTIONALLY create products that won't last), and is often based on transient trends and styles (aka, it'll be 'out of fashion' sooner rather than later).

Fast fashion is bad for the environment for so many reasons (and pumps out more fossil fuels than the shipping and aviation industries combined!?).

So let's unpack that.

Fast fashion is cheap.

It's often cheap to buy, because it's cheap to make. It's cheap to make because most of the time, it uses unsustainable materials- think plastic based materials like polyester, nylon, as well as plastic itself. Plastic is literally made of fossil fuels (think: oil), and if the way it's made isn't bad enough, plastic won't break down, or at least not for hundreds of years. and where does the plastic go? If not into landfill, most ends up in our oceans, choking our marine life and killing full ecosystems. more on that here.

So we're agreed, plastic... not cute. 

But hey, what about fast fashion that DOESN'T use fossil fuel materials? Well, sometimes they aren't so great either. Bamboo (often touted as a sustainable alternative) contributes to deforestation, and regular cotton (a long lasting, higher quality fibre) uses the most water and pesticides of all natural fibres.

The sad story gets sadder, because all of this destruction stands for nothing, especially when the products made in the fast fashion industry are low quality. 

Because of those cheap materials and labour, the products probably aren't made to last. If they're cheap to buy, the seller won't be making a huge profit per piece. which means they rely on you buying lots. And often. 

This is the premise fast fashion works on. They also often rely on 'trends'. Think of that funny slogan tee you had as a teenager... Bet you don't wear that anymore. Or those galaxy tights (although no judgement if you do... they were cool).

Fast fashion labels make you want to buy more by coming out with hundreds of new patterns and designs each week/month/year. It makes you want to buy more. and you do, because your old ones are probably worn out already, or out of style.

And where do all the out of style or worn through clothes and fashions end up? landfill.

In 2019, ABC found that aussies dump 6,000 kg of clothing into landfill every 10 minutes. Ouch.

Sure, you can donate clothes that are still in good nick, but the rest, unless you make a conscious effort to upcycle or reuse them, will end up in landfill. 

So fast fashion hits up landfill, water usage, death to flora and fauna, pollution and greenhouse gases filling our atmosphere. 




Even less cute? That a lot of pet accessories you buy and use, are part of fast fashion.

Stay tuned next week for more about your pet and fast fashion, and how to avoid it.