trashy fashion.

Hey friends!

Welcome back to my blog! The main topic for today’s post, is waste. Looking at the rate at which clothes are being purchased, it is no surprise that the amount of waste generated from the disposal of clothes is tremendous.

In the US, only 15% of garments are recycled or donated, while the remaining, a staggering 9.5 trillion kilogram of clothes, end up in landfills every year (Cline, 2014). This huge number is telling evidence of our culture of waste and this waste won’t be going away any time soon. Synthetics used to make our garments may take centuries to break down, such as polyester which requires 200 years before it can be broken down (Crous, 2018).

The amount of waste we produce with our ever-increasing demand for new clothes is likely to undermine efforts to make the fashion industry more sustainable. For instance, while the use of organic cotton has definitely made the fashion industry a more sustainable one, the issue of fast fashion has to be tackled on all sides. Effort on the producers’ side alone is not enough to go about solving this issue if demand on our side continues to sky-rocket.

 

…a landfill overflowing with organic cotton is still an overflowing landfill”  – Marc Bain

 

It is therefore pertinent that we spark a change in our culture in order to bring demand down to sustainable levels. After all, demand is the ultimate driver of fast fashion and all its associated environmental consequences. While changing our culture is definitely a mammoth task, each and every one of us has to take action, for the sake of the environment.

 


References

 

[IMAGE] Retrieved from: http://makeitlast.se/2016/01/10/on-our-minds-reducing-textile-waste/

 

Bain, M. (2015, April 12). H&M’s “sustainability” report hides the unsustainable reality of fast fashion.

Retrieved on 30 October, from:

https://qz.com/380055/hms-sustainability-report-hides-the-unsustainable-reality-of-fast-fashion/

 

Cline, E. (2014, July 18). Where does discarded clothing go?

Retrieved on 30 October, from:

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/where-does-discarded-clothing-go/374613/

 

Crous, M. (2018, January 18). Fashion waste: this is how long it takes your clothes to decompose.

Retrieved on 30 October, from:

https://www.w24.co.za/Fashion/Trends/fashion-waste-this-is-how-long-it-takes-your-clothes-to-decompose-20180118

use sparingly.

Hey friends!

Today, I’ll be talking about an issue that lies solely with us, the consumers, and this is the issue of clothing usage. How often do we wear our clothes before we throw them out? Do we take good care of our clothes to ensure that they last?

In many cases, we only get a few uses out of our clothing before they fall out of fashion and are left to rot at the back of our wardrobes. In fact, women get an average of 7 uses out of each piece of garment before dumping them away (Hall, 2018). Our wasteful nature and need to keep up with trends has led to the wastage of huge volumes of clothing and this is definitely avoidable. Furthermore, there are tons of tutorials out there that give us step-by-step instructions on how to transform old pieces of clothing into completely different ones! This is just one example:

 

This issue of wastage is also perpetuated by certain traditional practices. Each year in the United States, $2.6 billion worth of Halloween costumes worn for a single night before they are thrown away or forgotten (Hall, 2018). Can you imagine the amount of clothing waste generated just from this single holiday? Instead of buying brand new costumes, we can easily reduce waste by, again, turning old pieces of clothing into Halloween costumes!

Also, here are some tips to make your clothes last longer!

This issue is something that is totally within our control and the onus is on us to play our part in saving the environment. We need to learn to cherish our clothes and before we throw them out, think of how much work has been put into each piece of garment, from design to assembly. Hopefully, you guys are inspired to waste less and try out some of the DIY tutorials out there!

 

Till next time,

Dora 🙂

 


 

References

[IMAGE] Unsplash

 

Hall, K. (2018, January 16). 20 Facts about the fast fashion industry that will shock you.

Retrieved 22 October 2018, from:

https://thegreenhubonline.com/2018/01/16/20-facts-about-the-fast-fashion-industry-that-will-shock-you/

shop green.

Hey friends!

 

Today, I’ll be talking about how we can make more environmentally-conscious decisions when shopping for clothes. Of course, the best way would be to just stop buying clothes we don’t need. However, if you’re really in need of clothes or just can’t help yourself (like me), try to shop local! By buying clothes that are made in Singapore, we can reduce our ecological footprint by reducing pollution contributed to the transportation of garments assembled in other countries.

 

Alternatively, we can turn to thrift stores such as REFASH where second-hand clothes from various brands are sold at prices that can be much lower than their original price! According to the documentary The True Cost, a mere 10% of the clothes donated to charities and thrift stores are purchased, while the remaining 90% of them are disposed of in landfills (Hall, 2018). Buying second-hand clothes reduces waste generated and the need for the production of brand new garments and, therefore, its associated environmental harms. And we get to save money too!

 

There are also many fashion brands that are making an effort to up-cycle clothes, transforming waste or unwanted clothes into brand new garments. Adidas recently collaborated with Parley for the Oceans, coming up with the Adidas Parley line that turned ocean plastic waste into shoes and clothes (Adidas, n.d.). Adidas redesigned its wildly sought-after Ultraboost shoes to incorporate recycled items, including ~11 plastic bottles, in each pair (Kell, 2017).

 

Credits: Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters’ Urban Renewal line features clothes made from bits of vintage clothing to produce unique garments. Such efforts reduce the need for raw materials required in the production of new clothes and the volume of waste sent to landfills.

 

There are many ways in which we can reduce our impacts on the environment other than to completely stop buying clothes! As long as we consciously try to make more sustainable decisions when shopping, the impacts of the fashion industry on the environment can definitely be reduced. I hope that you guys now have a better idea of how to do so and see you next week!

 

Cheers,

Dora 🙂

 


 

References

[IMAGE] Unsplash

 

Hall, K. (2018, January 16). 20 Facts about the fast fashion industry that will shock you.

Retrieved 18 October 2018, from:

https://thegreenhubonline.com/2018/01/16/20-facts-about-the-fast-fashion-industry-that-will-shock-you/

 

Adidas. (n.d.). Adidas Parley.

Retrieved on 18 October 2018, from:

https://www.adidas.com/us/parley

 

Kell, J. (2017, April 21). Adidas is Turning Plastic From the Ocean Into $200 Shoes.

Retrieved on 18 October 2018, from:

http://fortune.com/2017/04/21/adidas-new-shoes-ocean-plastic/

fast, furious, fashion.

Welcome back friends!

 

Today, I’ll be talking about another aspect of fast fashion – online shopping. Some of the greatest impacts of fast fashion are contributed by online shopping. With advances in technology, we can buy garments from across the world with just the click of a button. Due to the convenience that online shopping gives us, the scale at which online shopping is occurring is massive and unsustainable. One example that clearly demonstrates this is Alibaba’s (an online shopping site) sales on Singles’ Day. In 2016, Alibaba’s sales totalled to $25.3 billion on Singles’ Day, an increase of 40% since the previous year (Garun, 2017). The size of such sales shows just how prevalent online shopping is in today’s society.

 

Credits: IMAGINECHINA/CORBIS

The reason why online shopping is unsustainable is the environmental harm it poses in terms of packaging and transport. Garments we purchase online often comes in plastic packaging and cardboard boxes and this is becoming a huge waste issue, especially at the rate at which online shopping is gaining popularity (Bird, 2018).

 

As mentioned in my previous post, online shopping has also made the transportation process of the fashion industry much more complicated and environmentally harmful. One aspect of online shopping that is especially harmful to the environment, is the use of express shipping. When consumers opt for express shipping, companies no longer have the time to transport packages in bulk. Instead, fewer packages are being transported more frequently, adding more vehicles onto the roads, skies and waters, and pollutants into the environment (Murdock, 2017).  The thing that makes online shopping so attractive, it’s speed, is the thing that is killing the environment. Next time, before we click that express shipping option, let’s slow down and spare a thought for mother nature.

 

Cheers,

Dora 🙂

 


References

 

[IMAGE] Unsplash

 

Garun, N. (2017, November 11). Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale amassed $25.3 billion, doubling 2016 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined.

Retrieved on 12 October, from:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/11/16637362/alibaba-singles-day-2017-sales-record-online-shopping-black-friday-cyber-monday

 

Bird, J. (2018, July 29). What a Waste: Online Retail’s Big Packaging Problem.

Retrieved on 13 October, from:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonbird1/2018/07/29/what-a-waste-online-retails-big-packaging-problem/#28b82c8e371d

 

Murdock, A. (2017, November 17). The environmental cost of free 2-day shipping.

Retrieved on 13 October, from:

https://www.vox.com/2017/11/17/16670080/environmental-cost-free-two-day-shipping

fashion freights.

Welcome back to my blog!

When you think about the amount of clothing being generated and purchased, it’s not hard to imagine the impacts that the transportation of these garments have on the environment. When we think about transportation in the fashion industry, we usually only think about the distribution of garments from factories to stores. However, this also includes the transport of raw materials to textile plants before they are brought to assembly plants to be made into the final goods. These final goods then have to be transported to physical stores (or residential homes in the case of online shopping) and eventually to incineration plants and landfills (most of the time).

 

Due to our incessant demand for new clothes, huge volumes of materials and garments have to be transported across the world and this has added trucks to our roads, planes into our skies and ships into our waters. Needless to say, this contributes greatly to pollution, be it air or water in the form of oil spills and emissions. Transportation makes up a huge part of the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and in the case of mega-brand H&M, transportation contributes to 43% its GHG emissions (AC, 2016). It is therefore evident that the fashion industry has to work harder to find greener ways to transport their goods.

Credits: Reuters/Olivia Harris

It’s impossible to leave out online shopping and its door-step delivery when we talk about the impacts of transportation in the fashion industry. In the past, garments were shipped by the masses to single locations (physical stores) but with the advent of online shopping, garments are being delivered in small packages directly to the homes of customers. The scale of the environmental impacts of transportation has therefore been magnified as the proliferation of door-step delivery has added thousands of delivery trucks to our roads which emit huge amounts of GHGs compared to passenger vehicles (Jaller, 2017).

I’ll be talking more about the impacts of online shopping in one of my upcoming posts so do look out for that!

 

I hope that this post has helped you guys gain more insights on how this aspect of fast fashion has led to environmental consequences. Once again, the main driver of this is consumer demand but it is also important to note that clothing companies can help to alleviate this situation by encouraging greener shipping options (land instead of air) and making sure to minimise the environmental impacts of their transportation methods. Making the fashion industry a greener one would take the combined effort of businesses and individuals!

 

Till next time,

Dora 🙂

 


References

[IMAGE] Unsplash

 

AC. (2016, November 4). Fast Fashion’s Fast Impacts on the Environment.

Retrieved on 5 October, from:

https://rctom.hbs.org/submission/fast-fashions-fast-impact-on-the-environment/

 

Jaller, M. (2017, December 21). Online shopping is terrible for the environment. It doesn’t have to be.

Retrieved on 5 October, from:

https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/12/21/16805324/online-shopping-instant-delivery-greenhouse-gas-amazon-environmental-problem

sustainable creations.

Welcome back friends!

I’ve always been talking about how we, as consumers, can push the fashion industry towards a more sustainable model. However, there is another group of people who can do this too, and they are the very ones who design our clothes. Designers get to decide what kind of materials go into their creations, whether they are designed to last or to be taken apart so that its components can re-enter the garment life cycle. Such critical decisions are major determinants of how sustainable the creation of garments will be and designers are therefore major actors in determining the future of the fashion industry.


Credits: Ellis by Amanda Camenisch

There has been a growing number of fashion designers concerned about the sustainability of fashion, and they have been taking active steps towards improving this. Designers like Richard Malone have found ways to turn ocean waste and recycled plastic into components in their creations while empowering female workers who they work with to produce their garments (Singer, 2018). Such designers try their best to incorporate the many dimensions of sustainability into their projects, caring for the environment as well as the workers.

In addition, a team of researchers have also been working in labs to develop solutions to some of the most harmful aspects of fashion. I found an interesting article on this which I think is pretty worth a read:

https://fashionista.com/2017/10/fashion-design-technology-sustainable-textiles-2017

 

The rise of technology has given us the ability to come up with never-thought-before ways to incorporate biodesign into the fashion industry and if this area of research advances, many of the major environmental issues that come with fast fashion could be diminished.

I personally feel that these individuals are the ones working the hardest to make the fashion industry a more sustainable one and I have hope that these people can be a source of inspiration to other designers as well as consumers to make more conscious decisions when it comes to making or buying clothes.

– Dora 🙂


 

References

[IMAGE] Future Learn. (n.d.). Future and Sustainability: Understanding Luxury Fashion in a Changing World.

Retrieved on 25 September, from:

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/fashion-and-sustainability

 

 

Singer, O. (2018, April 25). The Young Designers Pioneering a Sustainable Fashion Revolution.

Retrieved on 25 September, from:

https://www.vogue.co.uk/gallery/the-young-designers-pioneering-sustainable-fashion

to-dye-for.

Hey friends!

This week, I’ll be talking about the next step in the life cycle of our clothes, textile production. This basically refers to the process by which raw materials, such as cotton, are converted into fabric.

Some of the most harmful practices in the textile industry include the dyeing of fabrics as well as leather tanning. Just take a look in your wardrobe and its vibrant colours. That’s what I’m talking about. The processes that give colour to our clothes are extremely water-intensive and involve various types of chemicals such as sulphur and acids. These chemicals, along with heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic are being dumped indiscriminately into our water bodies, untreated (Maria et al, 2013).

“It’s been said that you can predict the next big colour trend based on the colour of the rivers near the manufacturing districts in China.” (Racco, 2018)

Needless to say, this causes water bodies to become highly toxic, to both aquatic wildlife as well as humans that depend on these rivers for water. Greenpeace has also found high concentrations nonylphenol in the effluent discharged by one of the textile plants along the Citarium River in Indonesia. Nonylphenol disrupts endocrine systems and can be fatal to organisms in the river (Sweeny, 2015).

Since water bodies are highly mobile, pollution from one factory is never contained to that one area. In addition, these impacts can be felt over a long period of time due to processes such as bioaccumulation and biomagnification. Indeed, the transboundary nature of such issues and the fact that they persist and worsen over time is evidence of just how much the textile industry is affecting the environment and our health.

In many textile production plants, workers come into contact with these highly toxic substances which irritate the skin and eyes and this has also led to higher incidence of cancers among textile workers, along with the inhalation of fumes and vapours (Babel, 2014).

 

Once again, such practices are fuelled by our incessant demand for clothing and a lack of care for the environment and workers’ rights in the textile industry. By employing water efficient processes and using natural dyes, many of these impacts can be minimised. The only goal of textile industries is to increase profits and if the lack of environmental awareness in this area continues, little will be done to improve the situation. However, more and more environmentally-conscious designers such as Richard Malone have brought light to this issue and are increasingly incorporating environmentally-friendly techniques into the way they manufacture their garments (Singer, 2018).

I feel that the effect of the textile industry on the environment is something that has not been emphasised upon and that much more has to be done to shed light on this situation. If we truly strive to be environmentally-conscious beings, we have to broaden our horizons and realise that everything we do has an environmental and social impact and that there is always something that we can do to make the world a more sustainable one.

– Dora 🙂


References

[IMAGE] Double Eleven. (n.d.). Impact of dye.

Retrieved on 19 September, from:
https://doubleeleven.co/pages/impact-of-chemical-dyes

 

Maria, F., Augusto, G., Raquel, E., Carvalho, J., Valnice, M., Palma, D. (2013, January 16). Textile Dyes: Dyeing Process and Environmental Impact. 

Retrieved on 19 September, from:

https://www.intechopen.com/books/eco-friendly-textile-dyeing-and-finishing/textile-dyes-dyeing-process-and-environmental-impact  

 

Racco, M. (2018, April 29). This is why sustainable fashion matters.

Retrieved on 19 September, from:

https://globalnews.ca/news/4173055/sustainable-fashion/

 

Sweeny, G. (2015, August 17). Fast fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world, next to big oil.

Retrieved on 19 September, from:

https://www.ecowatch.com/fast-fashion-is-the-second-dirtiest-industry-in-the-world-next-to-big–1882083445.html

 

Singer, O. (Babel, S. (2014, June). Occupational hazards in the textile industry.

Retrieved on 19 September, from:

http://www.researchjournal.co.in/upload/assignments/9_267-271.pdf

 

2018, April 15). The young designers pioneering a sustainable fashion revolution.

Retrieved on 19 September, from:

https://www.vogue.co.uk/gallery/the-young-designers-pioneering-sustainable-fashion

the humans of fashion.

From the glamour of runways to the gore of sweatshops, the fashion industry has resulted in unsustainable employment practices where millions of people around the world are being forced to work countless hours in dangerous conditions. In many cases, such workers can be as young as 5 years old.


Credits: Heather Stilwell

Worldwide, the fashion industry brings in nearly 3 trillion dollars anually and yet, workers can be paid as low as $1-3 a day (Brokovic, 2016). From 2013-2014, garment workers in Cambodia held protests to demand for a minimum wage of $160. Instead of listening to the needs of their people, the government met this with a tough crackdown whereby 4 protestors were killed, with more than 20 injured. The fashion sector contributes to 80% of the country’s exports and is, therefore, the driver of Cambodia’s economy (BBC, 2013). As a result, authorities often deal harshly with such protests for fear of upsetting fashion corporations that may threaten to stop operations in the country if the price of labour increases.

 

While we live in the comforts of our home, these people are literally fighting for their lives every single day. The fashion industry could have led to a win-win situation, where the rich get their clothes and the poor get a source of income, but due to our ever-increasing demands for fast fashion, this business has become an unsustainable one.

 

Watching The True Cost, a documentary on fast fashion, made me feel really angry about how workers are being treated in sweatshops and factories. However, when I thought about it, I realised that I myself was contributing to the abuse of these workers by constantly buying clothes without the need to. While it’s easy to blame the factory workers for placing unreasonable expectations of their workers, the root cause of this issue is actually us. The fashion industry, like all businesses, is a profit-maximising one. Where there’s demand, there will be supply. In order to meet our sky-high demands, fashion companies place huge pressures on their suppliers which in turn results in poor employment practices that only places regard on how fast clothes are being made.

 

The point I’m trying to drive at with this whole post is that there are many actors that contribute to the abuse of garment workers across the globe, including the government and business corporations. However, before we place blame on any other people, we should first question ourselves and think about how our own actions may have contributed to this phenomenon.

– Dora 🙂


 

References

 

Brokovic, E. (2016, March 25). Shocking facts about the fashion industry exposed by ‘The True Cost’.

Retrieved on 9 September 2018, from:

https://www.awaresy.com/shocking-facts-about-the-fashion-industry-exposed-by-the-true-cost-589/

 

The British Broadcasting Corporation. (2013, November 12). One killed in Cambodia garments worker protest violence.

Retrieved on 9 September 2018, from:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-24910835

 

[Image] Chua, J. (2014, May 12). Cotton tops list of industries most likely to abuse child labor.

Retrieved on 9 September 2018, from:

https://inhabitat.com/ecouterre/cotton-tops-list-of-industries-most-likely-to-abuse-child-labor/

the beginning.

When it comes to environmental degradation, most of us would conjure up images of huge coal plants emitting tons of black smoke or vast oceans tainted with oil spills. None of us would look down at the clothes we wear and think of how we have contributed to this by buying the clothes that we do.

 

However, the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters. As we grow more affluent, more and more are adopting consumerist lifestyles, leading to the rise of fast fashion. According to the World Resources Institute, people are ‘now purchasing 60% more items of clothing compared to 2000, but each garment is kept half as long’ (Drew, 2014). Such wasteful lifestyles have led to unsustainable practices in the industry in order to meet our ever-increasing demands.

 

The fashion industry is also very water-intensive:

  • One shirt: 2700 litres of water
  • One pair of jeans: 7000 litres of water (the amount of water one individual drinks in 5-6 years) (Hall, 2018)

 

Cotton farming, in particular, uses huge amounts of pesticide and insecticide, leading to pollution and polyester, a huge component of our garments, contributes to plastic waste as they ‘shed microfibres’ when we wash them (Perry, 2018).

After learning about this, I decided to raid my wardrobe to find out how much water I’ve consumed by buying all the clothes that I own; and it came up to a whopping 110,000 litres (it’s probably much more).

Credits: Days Japan

Another issue lies in the problem of animal cruelty in the fashion industry. While some brands are increasingly switching to more sustainable ways of obtaining animal products, many still do so in ways that cause great pain to the animals. These animals are often farmed in factories where they are crammed into small spaces, putting them through a lot of distress. Down feather is often plucked from live birds and in some areas, animals are even skinned alive (Robertson, 2017).

 

Here are some things we can do to minimise harm to the environment and wildlife!

  1. Buy garments made from recycled or organic materials
  2. Think before you buy! Do you really need more clothes?
  3. Prioritise quality over quantity
  4. Do FULL loads of laundry with cold water (this will reduce microfibre shedding!)
  5. Avoid animal products

 

Instead of caring so much about how we look, let’s take a step back to make the earth beautiful again 🙂

 


 

References

 

Drew, D. (2017, July 5). The Apparel Industry’s Environmental Impacts in 6 Graphics.

Retrieved on 27 August 2018, from:

http://www.wri.org/blog/2017/07/apparel-industrys-environmental-impact-6-graphics

 

Hall, K. (2018, 16 January). 20 Facts about the fast fashion industry that will shock you.

Retrieved on 27 August 2018, from:

https://thegreenhubonline.com/2018/01/16/20-facts-about-the-fast-fashion-industry-that-will-shock-you/

 

Perry, P. (2018, 8 January). The environmental costs of fast fashion.

Retrieved 28 August 2018, from:

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/environment-costs-fast-fashion-pollution-waste-sustainability-a8139386.html

 

Robertson, L. (2017, 1 September). Fashion and Animal Welfare: Everything You Should Know Before You Buy.

Retrieved 28 August 2018, from:

https://goodonyou.eco/animal-welfare-fashion/

 

[Image] Formal Friday Clothing. (2017, 26 April). Towards a More Sustainable Fashion Industry.

Retrieved 28 August 2018, from:

Towards a More Sustainable Fashion Industry

ciao

Hi!

I’m Dora, a year 1 student in the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) Programme 🙂 I decided on BES because the multi-dimensional nature of Earth issues fascinates me. It’s amazing to see how the environment and society, with its cultures and beliefs, can interact with and shape each other. Learning about issues from multiple points of view never fails to make me see things in a different light and honestly, it was just much more attractive than the idea of studying things like Chemistry or Math for four whole years.

 

In my blog, I will discuss sustainable fashion, which I feel is something that is not talked about enough in Singapore. Fashion is also something I’m really interested in (one look into my wardrobe will prove that), and I thought that as a BES student, I could apply what I was learning to my interests. Through this blog, I hope that, like me, my readers can learn more about sustainability in the fashion industry and become more knowledgeable consumers. We can look good and be sustainable at the same time!