SEATTLE, Washington — Fast fashion is the practice of creating clothing for approximately 52 micro-seasons throughout the year with a rapid turnover. The clothing styles produced are meant to emulate the high caliber trends of the runway at a fraction of the time and cost they initially took to produce. This trend has led to companies receiving daily shipments of new clothes and maintaining an overwhelming stock. In recent years, calls to “fight” against fast fashion have increased due to several environmental and ethical reasons.
Fast fashion has environmental effects as it creates huge amounts of waste. In addition, fast fashion raises human rights concerns. The people making these clothes are not adequately paid, are working in unsafe conditions and are exposed to the harmful chemicals used in production. The full detrimental impact of these practices will not be seen until much later making it imperative to start the fight against fast fashion now.
Centre for Sustainable Fashion
Centre for Sustainable Fashion is a research center at the London College of Fashion. It works to find new ways to continue to create fashion at a lower environmental and social cost. The Centre for Sustainable Fashion intends to continue researching and educating sustainable fashion practices and to work directly with businesses to give them the tools needed for sustainability. Since its inception in 2008, CSF has partnered with Nike, H&M, Kering and many others teaching the businesses new practices in making and selling that reduces carbon emissions and creates less waste. Another notable project of CSF’s is Clothes Well Lived which aims to challenge people’s perceptions about clothes and the current throw-away culture of clothes by making prominent window display art.
Greenpeace is a non-profit organization working to shed light on and create solutions to environmental issues. The organization utilizes peaceful protests and the mindset of “putting themselves in harm’s way” to achieve its objectives. One of Greenpeace’s current campaigns is “Living Toxic-Free” which aims to eradicate major chemical disasters and reduce industrial pollution. Companies such as Clorox have proven this reduction can be cost-effective and ultimately beneficial to the company. The poor and marginalized are the most affected groups by toxic waste and Greenpeace advocates to stop the disparity. Its goal is to pressure clothing companies to use safer practices and chemicals. Nike, Adidas and H&M have all pledged to reconfigure their production practices through Greenpeace’s advocacy.
Solidaridad works to make the cotton supply chain more sustainable. It first begins with the farmers, teaching them more sustainable practices for watering, harvesting and planting. Solidaridad also wants to offer greater physical protection to the farmers growing the cotton. As of now, farmers encounter extremely harsh and dangerous chemicals that have unknown consequences. In 2018, Solidaridad improved the finances of 235,000 producers in supply chains through 334 stakeholder projects. They work with governments, NGOs and communities to help identify problems and discover solutions. Solidaridad provides proof of concepts to these organizations and works to implement them properly.
TRAID has three main goals which are to increase clothes reuse, fund development projects to improve the textile industry and educate people on the textile industry. It has 1,500 locations for people to donate their clothes in 191 districts around the U.K. The organization resells and repurposes donated clothes. It also donates money to organizations dedicated to improving the conditions and livelihoods of people working in the textile industry. They also sponsor specific projects around the world including ending exploitation labor in spinning mills across India. Furthermore, TRAID offers free workshops at schools to educate students on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Waste & Resource Action Programme
Waste & Resource Action Programme generates practical solutions to extend clothing life and reduce clothing waste around the world. One of their primary goals is to “re-define” the possibilities of recycling. Through WRAP’s initiatives, carbon emissions have decreased by 13.4 % and landfill waste has reduced by 4%. WRAP encourages the repair and return of clothing to extend the life of unwanted clothing. WRAP also encourages companies to follow the example of companies such as Patagonia and Lulu Lemon which offer repairs of their merchandise. This practice promotes prolonged use and manifests less waste. Furthermore, this practice promotes brand loyalty and a sense of trust between the company and the customer. WRAP utilizes business models of sustainable companies and relays them to a greater mass. The organization provides research-based solutions and campaigns such as “Valuing Our Clothes”, “Love Food Hate Waste” and “Recycle Now” to build community engagement.
These organizations are at the forefront of the fight against fast fashion and will continue to change the way people view the fashion industry. They are working to force the industry to transform their business plans and force people to consider the consequences of buying an excessive amount of clothes. With continued education and dedication to the fight against fast fashion, the needed change to the fashion industry will happen.
– Allison Caso