Climate Change and Fast Fashion—It’s Time to Connect the Dots

In our previous two posts, we looked at some issues related to fast fashion. In this post, we will focus on an issue that cannot be denied or overlooked, namely, climate change. If you look honestly at the climate change issue, you also need to consider energy, primarily fossil fuels and nuclear, and pollution.

Climate change is very real and is already happening—in fact, it has been scientifically observed and documented for many decades. It has also been denied by the money, corporate, and government interests that want to keep the status quo; these interests are the ones profiting enormously from the exploitation of people and our planet.

Climate change is now at a point where so many factors are accelerating the problem, such as “black ice” at the poles (particulates being released from burning fossil fuels, especially coal and heavy fuel oil in container ships), methane (being released from melting permafrost, old pipelines, oil refining, fracking, and factory farms), countries violating the Montreal Protocol, among others.

Fast fashion is very polluting and is very energy intensive. The chemicals used in manufacture, from dyes to other textile chemicals, are all made from fossil fuels. The vast majority of textiles and threads are also made from fossil fuels; and those that are not require vast amounts of agri-chemicals in the field to grow  fibre crops, such as, cotton. Even with organic cotton, there is a carbon footprint because most, if not all, farming practices require machinery that use fossil fuels. And those same fuels are used to transport raw materials, such as the fibre crop, to an actual mill to produce the fabric. The fabric mills themselves operate using fossil fuels. In the case of fast fashion, every step of the process requires enormous quantities of fossil fuels and huge volumes of water.

And when you trash your fast fashion purchases, more fossil fuels are involved because the clothes are hauled to landfills, and other countries. This type of life cycle for a product is complete madness and makes absolutely no sense. The only thing that fast fashion achieves is easy and tremendous profits for the corporations involved, from marketing companies to fossil fuel companies.

Since fast fashion is primarily produced in Asia, particularly China and Bangladesh, throw-away clothes have come at a tremendous priceextremely toxic rivers, cancer-villages, toxic soil, air pollution, and of course climate change. As consumers of apparel, each of us has a moral obligation to seriously examine what we purchase. You may think that the cheap price or slick advertising is a great motivator to get a new outfit, but you are not just deceiving yourself; you are heavily compromising the well-being of others and the planet at large. An honest inventory of personal shopping/buying habits is long overdue. It is imperative to start now, if you haven’t done so already, if we are not going to trash the entire planet and wipe out almost all life.

“Already Got What You Need” from Rhythm of Love album
I went shopping
Man I was hot
You ought to see the junk I bought
I carried it home
to put it away
and it was already there
on the shelf
I say, who, what, where, when
How come I had to buy it again?
Consumer society has got me down
I’m running around
But I don’t have to be a slave to greed
because I already got what I need.
David Wilcox, Canadian songwriter