Editors Note: Occasionally we at ekko.world have a ginormous rant. Our style is not to preach, but we’re not too proud to beg for the planet either. And fashion has gotten us there.In the entire history of fashion, to a time way before togas, the word “sustainability” has never turned fashionista heads, until now. But the trouble with going all eco-friendly at the eleventh hour mark on our global warming alarm clock, is trying to make this trillion dollar global industry change every single aspect of its sophisticated manufacturing and highly engineered, supply chain overnight. It’s a task as difficult as landing a cargo plane, heaving with H&M, Forever 21 and Zara trash fashion, on something the size of a $1 coin, which is currently all you need to buy a girl’s tee at Best and Less. (That's right. Fast fashion isn't just about grown ups.) It’s a titanic sized challenge, but one in which the eco-consumer wields almighty tidal power, if we act now. Like, right now.
By 2030, it is predicted that the fashion industry’s water consumption will grow by 50% to 118 billion cubic metres, its carbon footprint will increase to 2,791m tonnes and the amount of waste it creates will hit 148m tonnes. Everything that’s bad about it is increasing. That is not in line with global industry goals to fight climate change.
ACCORDING TO WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, "IN THE LAST 15 YEARS THE INDUSTRY HAS DOUBLED PRODUCTION, WHILE THE TIME CLOTHING IS WORN BEFORE IT IS THROWN AWAY HAS FALLEN BY AROUND 40%. WHEN IT IS THROWN AWAY, 73% WILL BE BURNED OR BURIED IN LANDFILL. WHAT DOES GET COLLECTED FOR RECYCLING – AROUND 12% – WILL LIKELY END UP BEING SHREDDED AND USED TO STUFF MATTRESSES, OR MADE INTO INSULATION OR CLEANING CLOTHS. LESS THAN 1% OF WHAT IS COLLECTED WILL BE USED TO MAKE NEW CLOTHING." And guess what – we Australians are only second behind the US for per capita consumption of new clothing and other textiles, averaging 27 kilograms of fashion and textiles every year. Retail figures from 2017 showed 1.7 million Australians bought at least one pair of jeans every four months. And we are abhorrently wasteful, with 85% of what we buy going into landfill, and six tonnes of textiles (mostly clothing) dumped into landfill every 10 minutes. That‘s a horrifying statistic.
Now we are not here to make people feel horrible about themselves, but a little bit of personal responsibility accessorised with a reality check needs to be worn at an individual level. Ask yourself honestly, if those consumption figures are averages, which side of the mean do you sit on? Some of us are not buying anywhere near 27 kilograms of clothing and textiles a year, which means some of us are buying a lot more than that. And that’s a lot of clothing. Way more than Qantas lets you check on for an economy flight if you need a guide.
Australian fashion editors and bloggers who celebrated the arrival of fast fashion by continually tagging it with the euphemistic “affordable fashion” label, need to right their wrongs, write about their wrongs and call it out for what it is. Fashion editorial touted fast fashion as the great leveller that gave us all the ability to keep up with trends irrespective of income. You’ve done a lot of harm influencing the young consumer about what fashion is and kept the myth alive that to be truly fashionable you need to keep turning over your wardrobe to the point where fast fashion chains don’t even talk about seasonal trends anymore. A fashion cycle for Zara is an entire new line every 13 days and fast fashion competitors like Uniqlo are racing to beat them. Fashion victims keep falling for the myth that they are keeping on trend when really they are being manipulated for profit.
So, don’t buy any more fast fashion. Don’t buy gift cards from fast fashion houses for family and friends. Actually don’t even go in the shop for a browse, because the conversations that occur between customers in-store are used by shop staff to inform the next manufacturing cycle. Yes, its that contrived and manipulative.