Shopping for the perfect dress or pair of jeans can be a fun, yet stressful experience. You have to not only search for a beautiful garment that fits your style, but you also have to find something that fits within your budget. When faced with the choice between that $20 dress or the $150 one, the $20 might easily feel like the best option. Most people would consider the cost to their pocketbook, and not look much further to other costs their purchases might be impacting in their community or the world at large.
Okay, this might feel a bit dramatic. But, I thought it’d be helpful for you to keep some potential impacts to the world in mind - in these cases, environmental impact. No political commentary here, either, just someone that’s observed the fashion industry from many experiences, and has seen opportunities for improvement.
There’s a high correlation between fast fashion and our ever-declining environment, and these 3 examples might help you double-think that “cute cheap top”:
1. Dyes Are Killing Factory Workers
Leather-tanning is a harsh process that is causing fatal illnesses in migrant workers all over the world. Factory workers in Bangladesh are being poisoned by leather chemicals on a daily basis. Leather-tanners dump excess waste into water sources and effect entire communities. Over time, as locals continue to consume this water, they experience a slew of medical conditions which have even included cancer.
2. Excess Waste Due to Quantity
When individuals toss their unworn clothes due to poor quality, a majority of those items end up in landfills, increasing the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere along with other harmful toxins. Earth Pledge estimates that nearly 8,000 chemicals are used during the production process. Fast-fashion manufacturers rely on speedy production. In order to expedite the growth process of raw materials to garments, more chemicals are being pumped into our plant sources. This means more pesticides and chemicals are being released into the environment on a grand scale.
3. Resource Consumption
Fast-fashion companies use at least “378 billion liters of water” annually during the production process. By using such large amounts of natural resources on a consistent basis, fast-fashion distributors are robbing our environment of precious materials that could be used elsewhere.
In addition, to keep up with the ever-changing trends and demand volume that fast-fashion companies rely on, they use a lot of energy resources. This increases fuel consumption and contributes to the long-standing issue of global warming.
Sure, we all want to save a few bucks. However, we’d argue saving a few extra dollars isn’t worth the massive costs of our environment. You can start to do your part by purchasing staple items and avoiding unnecessary waste. Shopping for products made in the United States is a way to narrow in your search as you complete your wardrobe.
In order to be labeled as “Made in the USA”, products have to undergo a strategic review process ensuring that “all or virtually all” of the product was produced domestically. This alone should provide significantly greater piece of mind that production standards were high and governed by a slew of other federal regulations regarding waste management.
We have the power to make statements with our pocketbook. My family, Company and I will continue to invest our purchases right here in the United States.