Many of us may have heard about the impact that fast fashion has upon the environment and the exploitation of resources and workers’ rights. However, one cause that is often overlooked is the promotion of single-use outfits to festivals.
We live in a digital society in which wearing different, unique, and trendy outfits is continuously encouraged. However, appearing to repeat one to a special occasion is an “embarrassment” - especially if they end up on a social media platform. And, when it comes to festivals such as Coachella and Lollapalooza, people go to extreme lengths to try to achieve that perfect, one-of-a-kind outfit. One that they will most likely never wear again.
Fast fashion's environmental impact
Although going for a unique look is not an issue itself, the immense effect this novelty has on the environment is and brings a chain of consequences along with it. The fashion industry is a major contributor to the release of toxic chemicals, water overuse, and depletion of non-renewable sources.
“The industry’s textile production has a bigger carbon footprint than all international flights and shipping combined.” Greenpeace
Producing just 1kg of clothing made out of cotton requires up to 20,000 liters of water. On top of this, the amount of pesticides used and the labour violations it may entail also needs to be considered. And shoppers ought to be informed about this and make conscious decisions.
The fashion industry and the pandemic
Festival season used to be a pretty big deal before the pandemic, especially to the big fashion brands. Most of which have collections made especially for these types of occasions and constantly update them. It is this constant, rapid change of stock that fuels the waste. If clothes are not thrown by the store, they are forgotten or disposed of by their owners after being used once. In the end, both bought and unbought clothes go to waste.
However, when the pandemic hit and these types of events were put on hold, the need for one-of-a-kind outfits disappeared. The world finally got to rest. Shoppers, as unable as they were to go to a store and impulsively buy something, were also incapable to plan and ‘invest’ in their usual annual social events.
But now that many parts of the world seem to bounce back, will we go back to what used to be our wasteful, exploitative practices from before the pandemic?
Tackling fast fashion issues
There are various propositions to tackle this issue, and everyone has a key position to fill. On one hand, one could say that brands have the power to start shifting their models and at the same time educate their customers. After all, they are the writers and producers of what goes on behind the scenes.
An example of this is adidas’ initiative of Parley Ocean Plastic. They are replacing the need to produce new plastic by using upcycled marine plastic intercepted from contaminated waters. Although this points towards a good deed of cleaning the coastlines, in many cases companies, have started to adopt certain initiatives or collections as a way to prevent criticism and appear as “conscious” brands. There is still much to be done by brands all over the world, and processes that could and should be changed.
This is where we come into play.
Our role in helping the environment
We, as consumers, also have the power to direct and dictate the demand and quality of the products we buy. After all that has happened in this past year and a half, we have a duty to ourselves and the environment as a whole to start taking conscious actions and stop impulsively buying into trends and occasional whims.
In the past, on matters similar to this, many people and activists have taken matters into their own hands and demanded attention, such as the fight against London Fashion Week in 2019. If corporations, company leaders, and even politicians decide not to act, we as a society need to stand together and forge new models, standards and expectations.
There are other alternatives to choose from such as upcycling clothes, donating used ones, and diving into the increasing trend of thrift shopping. There is always a second option. Let’s stop going back to the easy one.