Most people can remember significant moments that later they realize will define them or influence them for the rest of their lives. One of those instances for me is the first (and last) time I went to a landfill.
Growing up (and as an adult), I jumped at any opportunity to hang out with my dad who did and does work very hard almost every day of the week. One Saturday, he asked me if I wanted to go to the landfill with him. Of course, I did. Surprisingly, as a teenager, I had no idea, not a single idea, what I was about to see.
As I mentioned in my composting post, my knowledge of waste and my impact on the environment circled around recycling. This was my first bout with understanding that there are things that can’t be recycled that myself, my dad and a lot of other people use and need to use to do their jobs and live their lives.
Not knowing what I was going to see, driving up to a hole in the ground full of trash and swarming with seagulls, I was speechless. I walked around while my dad unloaded his dump trailer and didn’t know what to say or do. I remember my dad acknowledging my silence and making a comment about the sadness of the situation we found ourselves in. He was right. It was and is sad because humans created what I was looking at and the situation that we find our planet in.
I think about that day and the less than 15 minutes I spent at the landfill pretty often, especially when I realized how much of an impact my own wardrobe was making on the environment. I stumbled across fast fashion when I was doing my personal development project for work that I mentioned in my composting post. Here’s what I learned and why I’m vowing to no longer shop fast fashion:
1. Fast fashion is defined as clothing that is produced cheaply, at lightening fast speed and is inspired by runway and celebrity fashion. The demand for fast fashion is tremendous because consumers want more trendy pieces at a low price as quickly as possible every waking moment.
2. The fast fashion industry has made clothing “disposable.” 80% of textile waste ends up in the landfill. Over 15 million tons of textile waste is created per year in the United States alone.
3. Not only does the production of these items waste water and nonrenewable energy sources, it involves the use of dangerous chemicals that are toxic to the Earth and more specifically to the people producing them. These items are also not made to last and are only made to be interesting for the time being, so they quickly end up being donated to thrift stores or go directly to the landfill. Only 15% of textiles get recycled per year, which amounts to about 3.8 billion pounds.
4. The fast fashion industry is booming! So, it’s on us, the consumer, to demand something better for ourselves and our planet.
5. As if you needed more reasons to boycott the fast fashion industry, these companies are known for the unethical treatment of their workers. Women and children are paid below a living wage, working in harsh conditions and surviving under strict abusive management.
Have you had enough? I hope so.
If you want more information, see the sources below. And be on the look out for a future post where I discuss how we can shop ethically on a budget and make a difference.
“Textile waste by the numbers” – Vox Magazine, by Lydia McAllister
“which fabric is the WORST for our planet?” – YouTube, Shelbizleee