The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world.
It’s one of the largest consumers of water, oil, and energy. It’s the reason why over 10 million tons of clothing ends up in US landfills every year. It’s also responsible for poisoning natural water sources due to dangerous chemicals and dyes entering waterways near communities where textile factories operate.
The industry is such a monster that its impacts on people and the planet are getting way out of hand.
But, here’s the thing: we all have the power to do something about it.
Fashion is deeply embedded in our cultural heritage and traditions. It’s also brought a lot of opportunities to people around the world since its massive evolutionary takeover during the industrial revolution.
Fashion is wearable art. Fashion is how we showcase our individuality and can represent a multitude of different aspects of an individual.
However, expressing yourself through fashion should be done with people and the planet in mind.
Keeping tabs on your tags is crucial in the fight for a sustainable fashion industry.
Here at She Warrior, there was no way we were going to curate our collections without considering every person behind the production line, and how mother earth would be affected. That’s why all our pieces are made in the USA. Our sustainable production house uses water-free dyeing processes, and spins synthetic fibres from 100% recycled plastic, offsetting the amount of synthetic textiles flooding the industry.
Regardless if you are leading a brand or as a consumer had no idea about the effects of the industry, you can make an individual impact on the future of Fashion. It starts by holding yourself accountable to learn the facts about your clothing, especially as we go into the holiday season.
Before you start to draft your shopping lists, here are three things to consider before you buy in-store or online.
1. The Social Impacts
According to the McKinsey Global Fashion Index, the fashion industry is worth well over $2.4 trillion.
Yet, the most important people behind the production line are not treated or paid fairly for their work.
For example, in 2013, a commercial building called Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed due to structural damage. Although many workers complained about hearing the cracks of the walls, and feeling unsafe in their work environment, their supervisors refused to listen as deadlines needed to be met on a tight budget.
Due to this ignorance, over 1,000 people lost their lives because of societal demands for cheap fast fashion around the world.
This is a human rights violation.
Increased global consumption of fashion is directly affecting human lives around the world.
How do we challenge the social impacts of the fashion industry?
By doing our research.
Before shopping in-store, call up your favorite brands to learn about their processes. Ask if their factories meet safety standards, and if employees receive proper health and safety training, as well as medical insurance or benefits.
When buying online, always look for the brand’s sustainability policy. If the information isn’t available or there seems to be a lack of transparency, call them up to learn more.
2. The Economic Impacts
Because labor in countries such as Bangladesh, China, India, and Sri Lanka is far cheaper than hiring local workers on US minimum wage.
As shoppers demand lower prices and brands demand quicker returns on shipments, workers in these countries work around the clock on limited pay (and often without breaks!).
Garment workers in Bangladesh make around $96 per month. Yet, the government of Bangladesh suggests that workers should be making 3.5 times that in order to live a decent lifestyle.
On the other hand, the fashion production industry in the USA has been declining due to the price of labor overseas, taking jobs away from skilled workers within our own country. In California alone, local garment manufacturing has been cut in half in just 10 years.
How can we support garment workers around the world?
When it isn’t an option, do the research to learn what brands are paying fair wages, and how brands may be empowering vulnerable communities through employment.
3. The Environmental Impacts
One garbage truck of clothing is sent to the landfill every second.
And it doesn’t end there.
In 2015, local cargo handlers unloaded 512,000 20-foot containers filled with clothing. The saddest part: the average person owns 127 items of clothing and wears about ⅕ of their closet.
Quality is more important than quantity.
If on average what’s in your closet is worth close to $2000 USD, why wouldn’t you strategically invest in quality, long-term items like you would when purchasing a car, a home, or a gym membership?
Buying a limited amount of quality clothing that’s made to last is how you can make an impact on the future of fashion.Shop clothing made from natural textiles, like organic cotton and hemp, or from upcycled textile scrap and waste materials like our fall collection.
Think global, shop local this holiday season.
Your buying decisions help create the world we’re all fighting for.
To learn more about transparency in the fashion industry, check out Fashion Revolution’s 2019 Transparency Index. The index evaluates 200 major brands on their social, economic, and environmental responsibilities behind the production line.