How shopping habits are creating environmental dilemmas and what retailers are doing about it
For an industry focused on and driven by creating beauty and art, the aftermath is pretty ugly. The rise of fast-fashion, led by consumerism and direct marketing, may seem like the perfect solution to staying on top of trends but offers no solution to its growing environmental and ethical impact.
As trends come and go on a seemingly weekly basis, production waste and short product life is a leading cause in microplastics and growing landfills. According to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the fashion industry is responsible for 92 million tons of landfill waste annually, and this number is likely to grow as fast-fashion brands become more popular and increase their volume of goods.
To help address the problem, some brands have promised to turn their efforts towards sustainable practices. From sourcing materials in a more environmentally friendly way, promising to reduce harmful emissions during production, and committing to the use of recyclable textiles, retailers are trying to find potential solutions to this global problem.
Big brand fast fashion names like H&M, Zara, and Asos, as well as high-end retailers such as Stella McCartney, Burberry, and Rag & Bone have all made promises to address the growing fashion-related global scare. However, their efforts fall short by only addressing the production side of goods and ignoring the real culprit—their volume of goods.
With global production set to increase by 63%, the industry is pushing towards infinite growth with very finite resources. With a business model focused on exponential expansion, it is difficult to understand whether or not these green initiatives will make enough of an impact.
It is increasingly important that consumers are aware of their effect on the environment as well, and are taking necessary steps towards a more eco-friendly closet. Donating unwanted items to shelters, and nonprofits, making efforts to purchase sustainably sourced items or second-hand clothing, and minimizing purchases with plastic packaging.
The main thing to focus on is purchasing quality items that will last through the minute-made trends are all delightfully easy and impactful steps shopaholics can make to curtail the impact of their favorite retailers