If you're like me, you've probably been looking for ways to continue to save resources and lower your carbon footprint. The more I learn the more it seems that I've been doing things for years that have actually been harmful for me and the planet. In doing so, I'm always discovering new ways to keep my personal needs from affecting the planet in disastrous ways. Conscious purchasing is one of those ways. Whether you're already a savvy, ethical fashionista or are looking to make more conscious choices when shopping, then let these 5 fast fashion secrets be some motivation for you to continue or join the fashion revolution.
1. The fashion industry is designed to make you feel out-of-style. New styles and trends are coming out every week and the fashion industry's goal is to get consumers to buy as much as they can, as quickly as possible. I'm sure some of you can recall when there were just two fashion seasons, Spring/Summer and Winter/Fall. As it stands now, the fast fashion industry creates 52 fashion cycles. Large entities like Forever 21 and H&M receive new shipments every day, fulfilling their goal of deliberately making YOU feel out-of-style. This leads to more sales and perpetuates this cycle that we know as, "fast fashion."
2. There is lead and other toxic materials in your clothing and jewelry.
Unfortunately, I have fallen victim to this myself, as I'm sure a lot of us have. I recall a few pairs of pants that I purchased from Forever 21 which made my skin blue and became extremely itchy. At the time I thought, “It can't be that bad or they would not be selling it to me, right?” Wrong!
Fast fashion retailers have been selling jewelry, purses, belts and clothing with lead and other toxic chemicals in them for years. Even after signing a settlement to limit the use of heavy metals in their products, they continued to do so anyway. Lead, a deadly heavy metal, is certainly not something I want on my skin and I wish I had known this earlier. A nice heads-up warning label might go something like, "We're going to be making crappy clothing that could potentially harm you and the planet -- but it will be cheap, so don't worry!" Yeah, that would suffice.
3. Your clothing is designed to fall apart. No you didn't read the washing tag wrong, these clothes were not designed for longevity. A store like H&M produces hundreds of millions of garments per year and place a small markup on the clothes banking on selling a very large amount of them. Their profits are intrinsically based on how much clothing they sell and they've created a business model to consistently keep people coming back for more cheap, fall-apart-in-one-wash clothes. Almost a year ago I did a huge closet clean out and am still left rebuilding after the fashion apocalypse that was my wardrobe. I'm a survivor!
4. Beading and sequins are an indication of child labor.
It has been estimated that 20 to 60 percent of garment production is sewn at home by informal workers, according to author Lucy Siegle in her book, To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? In her research she has discovered that millions of home workers are desperate to produce these clothes in order to make enough to get by. Many of these families dwell together in one small room where they live, eat and work hunched over embroidering and beading the garments we see in stores today.
5. Discounts aren't really discounts
Outlet stores like TJ Max, Marshall's, and Ross are known for carrying designer brands offering a significant discount. Most bargain shoppers feel great about saving money while still getting a name brand product they feel is trustworthy. The truth is, most outlet brokers deal with the designers directly so they can put their labels on cheaply made clothing manufactured in their own low-quality factories. An article featured on Jezebel confirms: “The jig is up: Big brands like J. Crew, Gap and Saks’ Off 5th aren’t selling you discounted or out-of-season merchandise at their outlet locations. You’re just buying lower quality cardigans and patterned pants.” This explains a lot.
I hope that either fueled your fire or turned you on to the idea of ethical fashion. If you are in need of some tips or inspiration, I've taken the time to come up with a guide to ethical shopping which will help you keep your style free from toxicity and eco friendly. Peace, love and conscious fashion! Namaste.