Your Role In The Fast Fashion Epidemic

To understand Stark and Freya’s mission towards conscious fashion, it is important to fully comprehend the environmental climate in which the fashion industry plays a major role in.

As we’ve already noted the overall influence the fashion industry has over the world, we are breaking down the specifics of how mighty of a force every facet that relates directly and indirectly to the fashion industry - including the environment. 

The world's second-largest polluter is the fashion industry. It's safe to say coming in only second to the oil industry is enough to warrant alarming industry practices and the consequential global environmental impact. To understand the devastating effect of the fashion industry, it is necessary to overview the recent uprise in the fast fashion movement.

Fast fashion is defined as the mass-production of cheap and disposable clothing mimicking the latest runway trends. With multiple releases portraying ever-changing trends, the demand for producing new products creates an inflated life cycle as a means to no end. As a new collection outdates last seasons' attire, the constant upkeep of being “in-trend” encourages continual purchasing. The byproduct of continual fast fashion purchasing is pollution, unsustainable consumption, plastic distribution, waste development, greenhouse gas emissions, and resource depletion. With this trend of fast fashion, the environment takes a hefty toll.

Fashion’s Environmental impact at a glance

Water pollution

Garment production creates untreated toxic wastewaters from textile factories with the heavy use of chemicals. These toxic wastewaters containing lead, mercury, and other dangerous chemicals are dumped into rivers, eventually leading to our global waterways.

Chemical prevalence

Chemicals are the backbone of clothing. Chemicals are used during fiber production, dyeing, bleaching, wet processing, and preserving clothing items. As cotton requires heavy use of chemicals, cotton farming has been correlated to diseases spread among cotton farmers. In addition, as these chemicals spread into waterways, the nearby people depending on rivers for drinking water, washing and bathing have been correlated to high rates of cancer. 

In addition to physical repercussions, the consequences chemicals play on freshwater disruption, ocean water pollution, and soil degradation is increasingly alarming. Chemical dumping has rendered the Citarum River in Indonesia and the Pearl River in China uninhabitable for fish.

Water consumption

The fashion industry is as much a major water polluter as it is a consumer. It’s currently estimated that 2 percent of all freshwater extraction globally is attributed to the fashion industry. Freshwater is used during the dyeing and finishing process for clothing.  For example, it can take up to 200 tons of freshwater per ton of dyed fabric. Cotton is another example of a high water consumer, needing up to 20,000 litres of water to product 1kg of cotton (which is what’s needed for a t-shirt and jeans). It is argued that in the near future water will become more valuable and scarce than oil - which would present intercontinental tribulations deeper than the dried out aquifers from which freshwater originates.

Plastic Filled Oceans

Every time we wash synthetic garments (which is nearly every time you wear your gym gear), about 1,900 individual microfibers fill our waterways. These microplastics are too small to be identified with the naked eye and become progressively smaller when reacting to sunlight, bacteria, wave motion, and seasonal changes. Eventually, small aquatic organisms living in the ocean ingest these plastic fibers, if not becoming stuck in their gills and mouth. As nature works it’s course, larger fish consume the smaller plastic-filled aquatic animals. As we consume the larger fish, this introduces ingested plastic into our food chain. 

Waste generation

As fast fashion necessitates early disposability, the onset of textile waste generation increases rapidly. Of thrown out clothing, only 15% is recycled or donated. This leaves 85% for landfill and incineration. The synthetic fibers that comprise your gym gear are non-biodegradable, taking up to 200 years to fully decompose. 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

10% of global carbon emissions are attributed to the apparel industry. With all the energy needed for production, manufacturing, and transportation, the generation of greenhouse gases intensifies. Leaders in clothing production like China, Bangladesh, or India are powered by the dirtiest types of energies - coal. 

Soil Degradation

Soil can act as a carbon sequester and is important for food production. Fashion plays a role in soil degradation though overgrazing of cashmere goats, chemical use for cotton, and deforestation caused by wood-based fibers.

With global degradation of soil partly due to unsustainable textile production, our global food security is threatened and climate change is propelled. 

Rainforest Destruction

As more hectares of endangered and ancient forests are replaced by plantations for wood-based fabrics (like rayon and viscose), the native wildlife and indigenous communities that rely on the ecosystem become displaced. 

What To Do About It

The increasing scale of the fast fashion industry overproducing poor quality materials is the catalyst to its destructive nature. To counteract this, Education is key. Learning what environmentally friendly materials to look for when purchasing and continually improving your impact as a conscious consumer is a great start. 

Tips:

  • Reduce your purchasing to only quality clothing made from organic materials and natural fibers to reduce chemicals and avoid cheap garments made from synthetic fabrics.
  • Avoid the latest trends that will quickly go out of style - look for slow fashion brands instead of fast fashion fixes
  • Recycle, repurpose, or resell  old clothing - old t shirts make great DIY beeswax wraps
  • Contribute your purchasing power to support clothes made in countries that enact harsher environmental regulations for factories (Australia, EU, Canada, US...).
  • Support ECA-accredited brands
  • Participate in clothes swap events, or exchange old clothing with friends and family.
  • Purchase locally made clothing to lessen environmental impact due to transportation costs.

Utilizing these tips prevents fast fashion from negatively affecting the industry as a whole. Practicing mindful consumerism and conscious purchasing helps create a more ethical climate around the world.

How does Stark and Freya help?

We support brands that give back to the environment and use sustainable practices within their life cycle. If our brands do opt to use plastic during their lifecycle, it ends with us. We recycle all packaging that comes to us by utilizing the Redcycle process, so plastic is not transferred through our processes.

We prefer brands that prioritize quality textiles so there is longer ware, preventing your clothing from going in the waste. We strive to present natural fibers and organic textile manufacturing.

We partner with local brands to spread appreciation to cultural differences around the world and decrease CO2 emissions from transportation from overseas brands. Our domestic shipping process is carbon neutral.

But most of all, we want you to have the opportunity to continue to explore the world in the most sustainable way possible.