Organic clothing and fast fashion are at opposite ends of the spectrum when we consider the effects that they both have on the environment.
What is organic clothing?
Organic clothing is produced, and often processed, using organic methods that work with the environment to prevent any negative impact.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is a means of producing a high quantity of clothing, quickly, and in the cheapest way possible – factors that have an enormous impact on the environment.
Organic clothing vs. fast fashion
Fast fashion is, quite literally, costing us the earth. Fashion has been recognised as the second most pollutive industry, after oil, with it's tempting low prices destroying our planet.
The fabrics used by fast fashion are often not biodegradable, and can last up to 200 years! Cheap synthetic materials are of a poor quality, and are thought to be the main contributer of the micro-plastics plaguing our oceans and causing the death of countless marine animals. On top of this, the chemicals used in producing our fast fashion items are toxic to our environment, our water systems, and ourselves.
Did you know that just 1 pair of jeans required 7000 litres of water?! One Greenpeace study found that 400 billion metres of textiles are produced each year, of this figure, 60 billion will go to waste as scrap, with ¾ of all clothing items ending up in landfill or being incarcerated...shockingly, only ¼ of our clothes are recycled. And that is down to us!
As well as having a detrimental effect on the environment, fast fashion is infamous for the exploitation of workers. Customers of one particular brand have found notes hand stitched into their clothes stating that they are not being paid for their labour. Countless workers don't receive enough money to simply cover basic living costs, with 80% of these workers being female, underage, and from poor regions.
Luckily, there are actions that we can take to help both the environment and the workers reach a better future. Look for brands who are transparent about the process used to make their clothes and where the fabrics are sourced from. If you're unsure but want to know, you can ask them! A company who are unable or unwilling to share where they source their clothes are incredibly unlikely to be SOMETHING sustainably. Support the brands who offer up information about their sustainability without hesitation! Also check the labels of clothes to ensure that only organic materials have been used. If you're looking for items that have also been processed organically they will also need to have a GOTS label – GOTS is a worldwide standard of clothing which requires organic items to meet strict production and processing requirements. Upcycle/DIY your old clothes into new items that you can continue to wear or gift! There are also platforms which enable to you to sell/buy used clothes at a fraction of the cost. Some stores will give you vouchers for recycling your old clothes, and if none of these are available to you, you can simply donate your used clothes to charity. Download the 'Good On You' app for information about the sustainability of individual stores.
Organic clothing is produced sustainably and through ethical practice. Workers are paid a fair wage, the environment doesn't suffer, and the items themselves are of a better quality and will last longer! Organic clothing uses none of the practices of fast fashion, and despite costing a little more, this is nothing in comparison to the devastating effects of purchasing inexpensive clothing made from cheap and harmful materials. When considering organic clothing vs. fast fashion, there really is no contest!
Pre-existing brands are starting to become more sustainable, now it's down to us as consumers to increase the need for quality and environmentally friendly clothing! By investing in organic materials you are preventing damage to the environment, the exploitation of workers, and ensuring that your favourite clothes will last you a very long time.