It is a pleasant Sunday afternoon, the Autumn wind whips your hair in a frazzled mess, but you don’t care.
On this bright day you are only filled with an endless shopping enthusiasm. Your shopping bag is brimming with the new collection of clothes as you create looks in your mind for the next season, reassuring yourself that you have made the right choice.
This may seem like harmless retail therapy, but far away in Bangladesh a factory worker bears the brunt of the increasing global demand in fast fashion.
In order to make the fashion affordable for the masses, the cost involved in the making of those clothes are kept low, which means that workers are awfully underpaid.
In addition to low wages, there is a serious violation of human rights since workers toil in substandard conditions.
While fashion magazines and social media fuel the demand and desire for the latest trend, the cheap prices make the purchase appealing and the disposal easy.
That’s where the problem lies, most consumers are unaware of the pollution footprint fast fashion leaves. One example is synthetic fabrics, the demand for man-made fiber has doubled which has resulted in excessive consumption of manufactured fiber.
Polyester is made from petroleum and requires large amounts of crude oil, the process of manufacturing it is energy-intensive and releases harmful emissions. But the detrimental effect on the environment is not limited to man-made fabrics, cotton has a major environmental footprint too.
The use of pesticides and the benefit to the cotton crop from subsidies keep it cheap while the production remains high.
This becomes the first wire rod in the wheel that drives globalization of fashion. China imports most of the cotton that is produced in the United States, mainly due to cheap labor abundantly available in the region.
These clothes are then manufactured according to the specification of the fashion brand and exported to countries in the west. But what happens when it reaches the consumer?
An estimate suggests that around 21% of the clothes bought are not even used.
The life cycle of clothing creates occupational and environmental hazards, every step of the way and brings no major benefit whatsoever to the end consumer.
Most purchases eventually end up in the landfills and the figure of clothing waste is growing rapidly.
This global issue can be solved if we take a conscious decision while shopping and shift to sustainable fashion. The environmental impact can be reduced if we buy from sustainable brands, prefer quality over quantity and think before throwing away our clothes.