March 19, 2024

The Addiction We don’t talk about Enough: Fast Fashion.

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I’m not an addict.

I don’t have an addictive personality.
I don’t drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, or drink much alcohol.
But there is one real bad guy that I’ve always loved.
One thing that was always guaranteed to pull me out of the dumpster of feeling a bit sh*tty (and that is how addictions start).
Fast fashion.

We are talking about companies that produce huge quantities of cheap and trendy clothes.

Feeling a bit unattractive?
That dress will make me feel better.
Feeling a bit depressed?
That coat will make me feel depressed in style.

And it’s an easy fix.
Because the prices are low.
Which is great, right?

Well, no.
Low prices signify something seriously wrong behind the scenes.
How can they make a profit selling at that price?
Because they are cutting corners, everywhere.
Poor treatment of workers is often one of the biggest symptoms of a fast fashion company. Long hours, low salary, minimal health and safety, child labour, and so on.

Do you still feel good in that new dress you ordered online?
I understand.
It took me a while.
Too long, if I’m honest.
It’s so easy to look the other way.

But it’s not just about the poor treatment of workers.
These companies produce so much excess that they can’t sell it all.
And then rather than recycling them, they destroy their excess products.
Destroy them.
Apparently, it’s cheaper and easier for them to do that than anything else.

A huge part of emissions generated by the fast fashion industry comes from textile waste and overproduction.
According to the European Environment Agency, the fashion industry produces about 10 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions, more than all shipping and international flights combined worldwide.
And those emissions are killing wildlife and destroying parts of our planet.

But what really hits me hard is that 11-year-old Mei worked her fingers to the bone for 14 hours in a sweaty hot factory making garments that would then be destroyed.

It’s horrible, isn’t it?
Are you trying not to think about her?
I know you are.
I’ve done it too.

Well let’s move on (but please, don’t forget Mei).
In recent years, people have started to become clued up as to what is happening in the fast fashion industry, and that is great.

But there is something else to look out for….greenwashing.
Greenwashing occurs when companies spend more time showing off their sustainability plans than actually putting them into practice.
If your eco conscious, organic cotton items arrive wrapped up individually in single-use plastic bubble wrap, the company probably doesn’t really have the planet’s best interest at heart.
They just want to look good in front of the cool kids.

So, is it all doom and gloom?
We can start to break the cycle of addiction, if we want to.

And that is why I decided to write this.

Here are four tips for breaking your addiction to fast fashion:

1. Buy secondhand.

This extends an existing product’s lifespan, reduces its carbon footprint, and reduces waste.
I now collect and sell secondhand and vintage clothing, as well as wearing it myself, and it is so much more fun wearing unique styles than walking around looking like everyone else!
I mean, who wants to let a bunch of fashion executives in a penthouse office decide what they have to wear this summer?

2. Buy from smaller, ethical companies, that produce small amounts of high-quality clothing.

It will be more expensive, yes.
But slow fashion is about buying clothes made with care that are meant to last, and then using them for a long time, rather than buying heaps of cheap items that last a few months.
You will end up spending around the same amount of money.
And, slow fashion is better for the soul than fast fashion.

3. Up-cycle.

You can fix or alter old clothes instead of replacing them, and even cut up and sew different clothes together to make new and unique ones.
Long dresses can become mini-dresses, boring jeans can become funky tie-dyed jeans, and so on.
I’ve started this already, and it is so much fun!

4. Buy from small local businesses.

When you buy local, you are already reducing your carbon footprint.
And when you buy from a small business, each item will have been created with love and attention.

Small business owners in my little seaside town are creating handmade jewelry, soaps, candles, pet flea collars, healing balms, massage oils, and crochet, and there are little clothing brands with designs by local artists, as well as up-cycled and vintage clothing stores.

In the end, it was easy for me to let go of the fast fashion addiction.
Why don’t you join me?
Just try it and see what happens.


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