How fast fashion like Zara, H&M devastating environment?

fast fashion and environment, Polluting the water, using toxic chemicals and wasting fabrics, fast fashion has made the environment pay a hefty price.

Now, very few people stick with a costume for a long time when new clothing models are constantly released. But in the Independent newspaper, Patsy Perry – a senior lecturer in fashion marketing at the University of Manchester, affirmed that before welcoming the New Year’s discount of big brands, consumers need to take some time to think about the terrible impact that fast fashion has on the environment.

Fast fashion started to boom in the 1960s when young people began to prefer cheap clothes to keep up with the trend of replacing the well-tailored clothes of the past.

Fabric dyeing wastewater is discharged from the textile factory to the street in Ain el-Sirra district, Cairo, Egypt. Photo: Reuters.

Fashion brands must find a way to meet the growing demand for cheap clothes, leading to the opening of a series of large textile factories in many developing countries.

With the ability to take just 15 days to turn an outfit from the mind of a designer to present on a shelf, Zara’s appearance in 1989 in the US market paved the way for the expansion of many fast brands around the world, including H&M, Topshop and Forever 21.

fast fashion and environment – The fast development leads to many bad effects

Just like its name, fast fashion brings a large amount of new clothes at an extremely fast pace with low cost, focusing on the latest trends or styles of celebrities.

It also means the negative impact on the living environment due to the pressure of reducing the cost and time needed to get the product. The fast fashion industry is often criticized for polluting water, using toxic chemicals and increasing the amount of clothing waste.

Vibrant colors with eye-catching textures and materials have always been such attractive fast-fashion elements. But many of them are due to toxic chemicals. Fabric dyeing water is the second most polluting source of water in the world.

After testing products of several fast fashion brands and confirming the presence of toxic chemicals, Greenpeace recently launched the Detox campaign to put pressure on eliminating toxic chemicals from fashion product.

Many of these chemicals are banned or restricted in a number of countries because of their high levels of toxicity, their ability to build up in the human body, disrupting hormones and the potential for cancer.

Chemical-filled containers at a textile factory were dismantled in India. Photo: Getty.

In the apparel industry, polyester is the most commonly used fabric. But when these fabrics are washed in a household washing machine, they form microfiber cloths that increase the amount of plastic in seawater. These fibers are very small, can easily go through sewage treatment plants into waterways.

And because they are not biodegradable, they become a serious threat to aquatic organisms. Small creatures like plankton will eat them, which then become the food chain for fish and predators. Finally, the microscopic fibers enter the human stomach.

The 2015 documentary, The True Cost, shows the terrible impact of the use of toxic chemicals in cotton, from the death of a farmer’s cancer in the US to many serious birth defects. of children of cotton growers’ family in India.

Growing cotton requires large amounts of water and pesticides. Now, most cotton grown in the world is genetically modified, resistant to pests and highly productive. However, they led to the introduction of “super weed” that is resistant to common pesticides.

To eradicate “super weeds,” global farmers need to use more toxic anti-weed medicines, which seriously threaten the health of pets and people.

The demand for organic cotton is gradually increasing (H&M and Inditex – the mother company Zara – are among the top 5 companies using organic cotton in 2016). But overall, organic cotton still accounts for less than 1% of the total cotton output harvested each year.

The fault is in fashion or in a consumer?

Textile waste is an undesirable consequence of fast fashion, because people buy more clothes but do not keep them as long as they used to. The explosion of fast fashion retailers has exacerbated the problem.

Fast fashion puts enormous pressure on cotton farming. Photo: Reuters.

Retailers are constantly launching new clothing products to attract customers and convince them that the items they have are no longer trendy.

The middle-class countries are richer, more abundant in shopping, and the demand for repair of used clothes is declining. Because buying new items is now even cheaper and more convenient than bringing in repairs.

Besides, busy life also consumes more time of a person than it did to the previous generation. Therefore, people are increasingly losing their skills in sewing and repairing old things. But fast fashion stores are growing very fast like mushrooms, making shopping easier than ever.

The seasons of constant sale come, making clothes a “disposable” item.

Let’s recycle and save

So, what can consumers do to reduce the environmental damage of fast fashion? Choosing an eco-friendly fabric is extremely complicated. Textiles made from natural fibers are not necessarily better than synthetic fibers.

Greenpeace’s Detox campaign. Photo: AFP.

Because the material is only a very small part of the overall textile. The yarn must still be pulled, knit, weaved, dyed, finished, sewn and transported – all of which can have a different impact on the environment.

For example, considering the amount of chemicals used to make a fabric, choosing organic fabric is better than inorganic fabric. But organic cotton still requires the use of large quantities of water and the environmental impact of organic fabric dyeing is still higher than polyester dyeing.

Therefore, expert Patsy Perry said that the best way is still recycling items. This method reduces the consumption of raw materials and waste. For consumers, the use of clothes longer, less buying new items will contribute to environmental protection.


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