Economy

Out of Fashion

Fashion appears to be killing us. Fast Company tells us several really disturbing things about its effects.

  • Think you are helping by sending your old clothes to Goodwill? In California alone, the company spends seven million on dumping them.

  • In Vasteras, a town in Sweden, a power plant relies on unsold H&M products as a fuel source.

  • Every piece of unsold clothing has relied upon materials to make and package them and fuel to transport them. Now destroying them takes additional resources that are destroying us.

  • Clothing companies are making 53 million tons of clothes. Much of it ends up in landfill or in oceans; much of it includes plastics.

The writer of the article notes that some companies are trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Nevertheless 100 billion pieces of new clothing for the seven billion humans on the planet in 2015 and that number has doubled in 15 years. The 80-20 rule also applies. We wear 20% of what we have 80% of the time.

The journalist’s solution is to buy better quality and more expensive and fewer clothes. But she doesn’t deal with the reality that those of us in the West have far more clothes than we need already - or that our identity is tied so closely to what we wear. Other kinds of beauty are all around us. We’re not the most important species on the planet and the most clothes or the most luxurious clothes will never change that.

A recent documentary of CBC’s The Passionate Eye documents the real cost of cheap fashion to those who produce it ad you can watch it here. The effects of the use of water is particularly sobering and the devastation of the environment is heart-breaking. The telling moment is when some of the young women who promote fast fashion on their websites saw this for themselves, they changed their attitude. Telling the full story to the consumers is our greatest challenge.