Fast fashion. #WhoMadeYourClothes? Inequality against artisans.

The Revolution transforming the fashion industry is well under way, taking several large steps towards reform and gaining widespread attention. This movement focuses on two important aspects: How fashion and making clothes affects the environment, and the rights of those who make the garments worn across the globe.

Growing support for climate action is directly linked to the fashion industry. Polyester – commonly used in clothes – is a type of synthetic plastic. It is so commonly used that 34.8% of primary microplastics in the ocean come from synthetic plastics found in our clothes. As a result, organizations, activists, and members of the fashion industry are calling for a change to the way we use clothes and what our clothes actually contain. Specifically, there is a call for completely eco-friendly clothing, such as garments that can be recycled or composted. This would mean that senseless damage to the environment would be eliminated, since the fibers and micro plastics would not end up in our oceans, rivers, or other vital areas of nature.

These fashion industry reformers are also calling for a change on behalf of regular consumers. They are encouraging people to shop second hand, refurbish or repair old clothes, and only give their business to companies that make sustainable clothes that don’t cost the health of our environment. Besides what these temporary clothes are costing the planet, attention has also been called to what these clothes are costing the people who made them.

Buying secondhand clothing is one way to be environmentally friendly. 

Many clothing companies that sell in first-world countries have their clothes made in third-world countries, placing impoverished workers – especially women and children – at risk. These workers are often underpaid and subject to unsafe working conditions that damage their health, long and short term. To combat the exploitation and raise awareness to the injustice that these artisans experience, hashtags like #WhoMadeYourClothes and #IMadeYourClothes are being used across numerous social media platforms. Although simple, it’s a big step in giving a face to the products we so flippantly use.

It’s a long process and movements don’t happen overnight. Yet these are big steps towards a more transparent industry. And they are big steps towards an industry that values the environment and the hard-working people that are affected by the choices we make about such mundane things as clothes.

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Sydney Barragan

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