Growing up, clothes shopping used to be an occasional event for me – something that happened a few times a year when either the seasons changed or when we outgrew the clothes we had or when it was festive occasions like Eid or birthdays. As the youngest sibling in the family, I used to get a lot of hand-me-down clothing from my older sister which were then passed on to my younger cousins, when I outgrew them. This was the norm in many households back then and clothes were repurposed and reused again and again.
However, for about the last 20 years, things have changed. Clothes became cheaper, fashion trends change way too quickly and shopping has become a form of entertainment, with global chains dominating high street fashion and online shopping makes it much easier to shop. This gave birth to fast fashion.
But what is Fast Fashion? And how does it impact people and the planet?
“Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, that sample ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into affordable garments at a fast speed and the latest collection from a designer’s collection would soon be seen on the racks of a high street fashion brand”
We all love a bargain outfit that is trendy, affordable and hence we buy fast and too often wear things once and then throw them out – That’s fast fashion. Our planet is suffocating because of the increasing desire for fast fashion. Let see explain how…
In order to produce trendy clothes in a short amount of amount and at a low cost, lots of compromises are made that we are consumers are unaware of and are oblivious to. But it’s time to stop and think about what we are doing to the planet with our increased need to shop more and more and wear a new outfit at every event.
- Lots of synthetic materials are used to produce these garments which not only implies, the use of a lot of chemicals in the production of these fabrics but also means that trillions of synthetic microfibers (that comes off when clothes are washed), go back into the ocean and pollute the environment.
- Since the time for the garment to be produced to making it to the rack of the store is so short, their quality is compromised and hence doesn’t last very long, create waste. Also because of the need that we have developed for fast fashion, we end up buying the latest trends and not wearing the clothes we bought last season. This causes a lot of wastage and billions of garments end up in landfills every year! And since that is mostly with a lot of synthetic fiber, it does not decompose stays in the environment. By producing billions of clothes every year, the fast fashion industry is also releasing waste and chemicals into our world, polluting and driving species to the brink of extinction
- And last but not least, there is also a human cost involved in this Fast fashion Multi-Billion Dollar industry. These fast fashion global high street brands have their garments manufactured into countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, China, Taiwan, Pakistan, etc., where the labor laws are either not in place or are followed strictly. The garment workers have been found to work in dangerous environments, for low wages, and without basic human rights. So next time you see a high street brand shirt or jeans made in your home country, it’s not because we have excellent raw material but it’s because unfortunately, our labor can be exploited easily!
Here are some facts and figures about the fast fashion industry
Each year, over 100 Billion items of clothing are produced globally using 1000s of different chemicals yet 3 out of 5 items end up in landfills within 12 months!
The fast fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year.
It is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater.
It produces 97% of our clothes overseas in countries where labor and environmental laws are nonexistent.
The choice eventually lies with us. Every time we invest in an item of clothing
- We can consider every purchase (if we need it or just want it) and love our choices.
- We can buy quality items that would last longer and hence consume less.
- We can recycle and repurpose and swap clothing.
Together we can change our attitude towards fast fashion and choose sustainable fashion.
As a small step in this direction of promoting this sustainable fashion in Qatar and saving and protecting our environment, Roots salon hosted a fantastic event called “Fashion Swap”. The event was conceived and executed by Carolyn Collins (General Manager, Roots), Lia Bonfio (Founder, Just Wow Qatar), Pooja Adam (Fashion Stylist, Les Rebelle Squad) and Laura Brennan (Founder, Eco Souk Qatar) who joined forces, put in their time, ideas and passion to make a difference for our planet. The event was a first of its kind in Qatar, where these 4 women urged other women to clear up their closets and select items that can have a new life in someone else’s wardrobe. They were asked to drop their used clothes & accessories at Roots and in turn, would get a chance to swap them with other amazing pieces to create fresh looks while giving their contribution towards sustainable fashion.
It wasn’t an easy task to undertake as they received an overwhelming amount of clothing and accessories, that were dropped off at the salon. They then had the mammoth task of sorting through, organizing them in categories and setting them in order for the swap day.
Fashion Swap event received a fantastic response from the women in Doha, who participated, shopped and had fun whilst supporting sustainable fashion. And after the success of the first one, these ladies are encouraged and excited to do it at a much bigger scale next time! And I am so looking forward to their next one!
The fast fashion industry is, unfortunately, one of the biggest contributors to climate change and pollution. Reusing, repurposing and upcycling pre-loved clothing is a small step towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Whats NOT to love about a fashion swap! It’s Planet and wallet-friendly!
Do think about the environment, next time you shop!