Unlike mass-produced clothes, ethically made clothing comes from brands who follow fair business practices all along their production chain. These brands are always looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact when producing clothes. They’re also more considerate of humanity (workforce) and the environment. Their aim is to establish a system that works without leaving a negative footprint.
What’s wrong with Fast Fashion?
Fast Fashion has had so many negative effects in the world. The man production of cheap clothes is closely associated with poor working conditions and low wages for those who make them. There have been many instances when news outlets have reported various labor right violations by many renowned brands. In 2016, Uniqlo was accused by one of its suppliers in China, for expecting its staff to work over time "for low rates of pay, in an environment of bullying and harassment". In 2017, employees of a Turkish factory slipped pleas of help into clothing sold by Zara. The notes said workers had not been paid their wages for three months. This factory also made clothes for Mango and Next.
It’s hard to admit it, but most likely the t-shirt or dress you got from the nearest fast fashion retailer was quite possibly made by a child or trafficked laborer in unsafe or even deadly conditions for pennies a day, if that.
But poor working conditions and low fares are just the tip of the iceberg. The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity's carbon emissions. The environmental costs of fast fashion are undeniable. From landfills covered with mountains of donated clothes and leftover fabrics; chemicals being discarded into rivers, soils, and air; to the excess of water this industry uses in order to produce clothes. It is the second-largest consumer of the world's water supply, after Agriculture. To put this into perspective, Fast Fashion can take an estimated 20, 000 litres of water to make one pair of jeans and one t-shirt. Those 20,000 litres of water would take more than 13 years to drink.
The apparel industry impacts resources, climate, animal welfare, water supplies, food supplies, air pollution, habitat destruction, and human rights. Source: sustainablefashionacademy.org
Why Ethically made clothes are better
Ethically-made clothing is often hand-made and unique, better quality and lasts longer. The quality is higher; usually organic fabrics are used in the manufacturing process, and they always feel so soft and so comfortable, something kids actually tend to appreciate. And when clothes are hand-made and produced in small batches, more thought and care is put into the design and creation process, so quality and style are never compromised, at least not by the brands we house at Pingo Apparel. CarlijnQ, Les Petits Vandales & Indikidual are some of our most popular brands because people love their quality, softness and unique style.
Turtledove London sweatshirts made of 100% GOTS certified organic cotton.
Fair Business Practices
Brands who follow fair trade practices, are supporters of providing safe and humane working conditions, health care and fair wages, often above current market rates, for the people who make their clothes. A lot of times, they work with organizations in developing countries to create jobs that include training, maternity leave, healthcare and a harassment-free working environment. These brands also, don't support child labor.
Lower Environmental Impact
Creating high-quality and long-lasting garments helps reduce the negative effects Fashion has on the environment. People don't have to replace their clothes as often. In the case of kids clothes, when you buy high-quality pieces for them, you can always re-sell them. Giving clothes a second, third or fourth life, helps reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. And just as important, when ethical brands use natural or recycled fabrics to make clothes, less water and energy, and significantly less chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides are used to grow crops, which translates into safer working conditions for the farmers who therefore, have less exposure to toxic chemicals, and there is less pollution that goes into the soil as well.
I feel you, we all love good deals, but when you look at the huge impact (from environmental costs to human costs), Fast Fashion has had on the planet you start to wonder if the $8 t-shirt is really worth it. As consumers, we are part of this cycle. When we buy clothes from brands who neglect the environment and people, we are supporting their unethical business practices; and our cheaply made clothes will end up in the landfill within months.
I know taking the first steps to making a difference in the world may feel overwhelming, but baby steps are better than no steps at all. Never think your actions are too small to have a positive impact. When multiplied by millions of people, they can transform the world!
p.s. Buy less, choose well, make it last – Vivienne Westwood
Monica Munguia Samperio
Monica is a mother of two and loves to express herself through the clothes she wears. She is the owner of Pingo Apparel, an online shop based in Toronto that offers parents the opportunity to buy ethically made clothing for their kids, and for themselves. Monica is always striving to find balance and peace in her life, so she is always working on improving herself. Part of that process is the way she shops. She used to be a “fast fashion junkie” but that changed right after watching the documentary “The True Cost” of Fast Fashion. Ever since she has been taking baby steps towards a more sustainable and mindful way of shopping. Monica believes no action is too small to have a positive impact, for when it’s multiplied by millions of people they can transform the world. Learn more at www.pingoapparel.com.