Environmental impact of fast fashion and material alternatives

eco-friendly clothing materials: wool & silk

Disclaimer: The pieces featured in the photo above are made of 100% biodegradable materials: wool & silk. The wool cardigan was provided by Minelal, and the cami provided by Frances Austen, for photo styling. This opinion piece is in no way affiliated with either of these brands, but I specifically chose to partner with them because of their use of eco-conscious material selection for these pieces.

It’s been a while since the last post, and there’s a good reason why. After reading the November 2017 issue of Fast Company, which sheds light specifically on tech + culture, one article in particular piqued my interest. Stella McCartney’s take on fashion and advancements in material technology were fascinating, specifically the environmental impact of fast fashion.

Did you know that polyester, one of the softest, cheapest, and most-used fabrics in fast fashion, is an environmental pollutant that can take up to 200 years to degrade? Even washing this fabric sheds synthetic microfibers into the ocean!

Now with this info in mind, here’s more food for thought: the fashion industry produces over 150 billion pieces of clothing each year, with 80 billion pieces being consumed by humans annually. Fast fashion has taught us that it’s ok to not invest in clothing; to constantly consume new pieces by paying less out of our wallets, but in the long run, pay for this consumption through the environmental impacts of throwing away materials that are not only environmentally harmful to produce, but also harmful when discarded.

The table below really highlights the advantages and disadvantages of natural vs synthetic materials:

natural-synthetic-fabric-properties
Source credit – 40+ Style: Properties of Polyester and Other Fabrics

With all of this said, there are some positive initiatives – even in the fast fashion space – that are doing good by advancing material technology through recycling and being more mindful of the environmental impacts of a clothing item’s full life cycle.

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