Fast fashion pieces

The Unexpected Consequences of Fast Fashion: Part 1

Apr 24, 2020

Jenna Camareno

Fashion is one of the greatest treats of my life. But what does fashion look like when it has a conscience? I needed to know. Like an explorer ready to break new ground, I grabbed my compass and walking stick and set out on a fashion adventure. (Those are my favorite kind.)

As my discovery process began, a new buzzword showed up: fast fashion. As I wandered deeper and deeper into this phenomenon that has hit western culture in the last few decades, my jaw dropped and my eyes started bugging out a little. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

A few minutes later, I felt my entire paradigm shifting.

As I stepped back and gazed at the phenomenon of fast fashion from a few more yards of distance, I could see my own emotional and mental investment in its system. Little had I known how much I myself had bought into the cheap lies of fast fashion. 

I can’t wait to share some of my findings. Get ready to have your mind blown, though.

Capitalism Gone Wrong

You see, I believe capitalism is one of the purest and most powerful systems in existence for eliminating poverty. 

In a healthy capitalist system, small businesses flourish. Anyone with an ounce of pluck can have an idea and shape it into something that takes life. The potential for dignified profit is unlimited, and any determined entrepreneur has the potential to lift themselves and their family to a new standard of living.

But, like all human systems, capitalism is susceptible to the sinful nature of man. When biblical values such as human dignity, generosity, and contentment are removed from capitalism, it can become a cancer.

In its idolatrous priority of financial gain at all costs, corrupted capitalism tries to sell us the lie that we will be fulfilled by having more stuff. 

It’s the consumer mentality, and we eat it up. I eat it up. One of my favorite things to do is scroll through Pinterest for new outfit ideas. It awakens my creativity! Yet it also whispers in my ear that I would be happier if I had more pretty clothes. It tells me that swapping what I have for a new wardrobe every season is a good idea. It lures me into trying to create my identity and reputation through my physical appearance.

Fast Fashion Defined

What fast fashion is: cheap clothes produced by big retailers who try to seduce you into buying more every week. It transforms our mentality about clothing from investing in pieces you will save for years, to frequently filling your cart with items so cheap that you don’t even mind throwing them away once you get bored with them.

To the western shopper, clothing is becoming a commodity that gets “used up” like a gallon of milk or a cup of coffee. It’s poorly made and disposable. Whereas in the past, styles changed seasonally, now mass-market retailers are trying to sell us the notion that trends change every week. Fashion is moving at a dizzying pace.

In parts 1 and 2 of this Fast Fashion series, I’ll highlight a few things about the garment production process from start to finish. We’ll start with the fibers that make up our clothing.

Cotton

Cotton is one of the most favored fibers in garment production. As a consumer, you have the option of buying organic or nonorganic. 

Nonorganic cotton is genetically modified so it will be immune to disease and produce a higher yield. In its cultivation, nonorganic cotton receives a huge percentage of the world’s pesticides and insecticides. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic, as suggested by even the US Environmental Protection Agency. These chemicals that bathe non-organic cotton cause asthma, miscarriages, and neurological damage, in addition to cancer. Has it got your attention yet?

Conversely, organic cotton farming utilizes the right kinds of insects to control pests, and removes weeds mechanically. It produces crops in smaller quantities and is more expensive monetarily. Even so, we must take a step back and look not only at the cost to our wallets, but the overall cost to our world. Nonorganic cotton farming poisons soil, water, and people.

Polyester

Now let’s talk about polyester. Do you even know what that is? I didn’t. It’s a cheap and durable alternative to natural fibers, and for that reason has become ubiquitous. According to blogger Summer Edwards, it’s a “synthetic petroleum-based fibre”. Maxine Bédat calls it “a polluting plastic made from fossil fuels.” Already sound a little funky? Well, it is.

Polyester is usually non-biodegradable. Unlike a natural fabric like cotton that can break down over time, polyester holds its structure for decades, or even centuries.

But perhaps even scarier, the fibers in polyester have been shown to shed in the washing machine, entering our water system! When fish were tested at a fish market in California, 1 in 4 was shown to have polyester micro fibers inside of them. When we eat those fish…you do the math.

Water Contamination

Back around 1960, our clothes were made in America. Exported clothing was the exception back then, but now it’s the norm. But in 2020, less than 2% of our clothing is American-made. Because most of us are so removed from our clothing’s origins, we remain blissfully ignorant of the havoc wreaked in communities overseas. 

For example, in countries that carry much of the burden of garment preparation, chemicals and dyes leave the factories untreated. In Bangladesh, 56 billion liters of water get contaminated each year. These toxic chemicals enter the water system, and are used for everyday purposes. The result? Impoverished communities experiences consequences such as sickness, deformities, and death. Children with handicaps are common, and families lack resources to get treatment. Thus, many of these children simply die. Can you imagine?

This is only the beginning. Click here for more must-know principles of fast fashion, and then some ideas as to what we can do about it!

For More Information, Check Out:

Organic vs Non-Organic Cotton

Sweat Shop Hours

What Happens When Fashion Becomes Fast, Disposable, and Cheap

The Gorgeous Life is about all the facets of female life in Christ Jesus. You’ll find tips to cultivate glowing health, be more present and alive in your relationships, develop inner and outer beauty, and laser-focus your sense of purpose in the world.

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