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CAN THE FASHION INDUSTRY BE SUSTAINABLE?

Have you ever wondered how much clothing we consume globally? Do you wonder how sustainable your approach to consuming fashion is? It may be difficult to conceive an estimate of how much clothing we consume globally. It’s also mind boggling to conceive the number of people who have no access to clothing globally. Of course, clothing is an essential part of life; a necessary form of protecting our decency and for protection against harsh environmental conditions. For many of us, it’s more than that. Clothing and fashion are means of expressing our individuality, style and passion.

The need to give expression through fashion has become more prominent with social media. There was a time when only celebrities were in the news for wearing a fashion item more than once but not anymore. Now, anybody can get trolled for taking pictures in the same outfit at different times or occasions. There’s a lot of pressure on young people to look the “part” on social media. It’s an era of keeping up with the Joneses. Unfortunately, this come up the accumulation of fashion items and harmful impact on our planet.

The fast fashion industry players have benefited immensely from this era. Players such as Boohoo, Pretty Little Things and Fashion Nova have mastered their craft in updating their styles at extremely fast pace and at low prices. Helping us all keep up with the facade on social media. Yes, with fast fashion, we can afford to wear clothes once, then thrown them out.

But how sustainable is it? What impact does our fashion choices have on our environment? We really must take a step back to think about how healthy this trend is to this planet we call home. Landfills are filling up at an extremely alarming rate from the dump of unsold mass-produced items. Low priced items most often mean items that are made with little or no consideration to type of labour used including child or forced labour or working under very deplorable conditions. Low quality items mean item which hardly survive a one-time wear before finding their way to, you guess right, landfills. Use of low-quality fabric means fragments of fibers that are harmful to the environment being released into the sea when washed.

It is no longer news that the fashion industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emission which is overheating the planet. A recent report released by British parliament gave us some perspective into the use of fashion items. According to the report, it was found that British shoppers are buying twice as many items of clothing as they did 10 years ago. The report is also highlighted the high number of clothing items being discarded which are now piling up landfill sites.

William Nordhaus and Paul Romer who won the 2018 Nobel prize for economics for their work on climate change and sustainable growth have made a call to consider economic activities and its impact to the climate. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also issued a recent report calling for urgent and unprecedented changes that will ensure the survival of our planet, citing that we may have only 12 years to make necessary changes.

Can fashion industry be sustainable? Can we focus on moving the industry into one that seeks to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and reduce the overheating in the atmosphere? We all can play our part. We must commit to asking ourselves if every one of our approach to and consumption of fashion is sustainable.

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