Unveiling The Ecocide Truth Behind the Ever-Changing Fashion Industry

Written by: Reynaldo Andika & Ratu Hanifa

Designed by: Zefanya Patricia

If you are a fashion enthusiast, surely you are familiar with the changes in clothing styles found in malls that continue to change quickly. Do you know why this phenomenon occurs? What happened to the clothes that were replaced? To answer this question, we need to know the impact of the internet on the fashion industry as a whole. The presence of the internet makes it easy for individuals to exchange information directly, especially with social media, an individual can easily see what new fashion trends are booming. Based on this phenomenon, the textile industry has a variety of fashions that alternately follow the existing trend with the shortest production time, it is the basis of a phenomenon known as fast fashion. Fast Fashion is a trend when fashion products are produced at a fast time and at low prices, every season (session) fast fashion can produce various models. Based on Industry Ranking fastretailing.com the industry is dominated by three major players, namely Zara, Uniqlo, and H&M. This industry focuses on speed and low production costs to provide the latest collections that are in line with trends, so the latest collections can come at least once every 6-8 weeks.

Unfortunately, with a large market demand and also with affordable prices, the fast fashion phenomenon causes overproduction and overconsumption, where production and consumption occur excessively. Therefore, there are a lot of negative impacts generated by the fash fashion trend, especially on the environment. Behind the cheap price, there is an expensive price that must be paid by the environment. The fast fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the world’s total carbon emissions and is expected to rise to 50% by 2030. A common clothing material used in the fast fashion industry is polyester synthetic fiber. This material became the main source because of the low cost to produce. When compared to other materials, the price of polyester is only half the price of cotton. Polyester is produced from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is a type of plastic derived from fossil fuels. Polyester is not biodegradable (non-biodegradable) so it will release microplastics that can damage the ecosystem. According to a 2017 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report, it is estimated that 35% of microplastics in the oceans come from the washing process of synthetic fibers including polyester. These microplastics can infiltrate the food chain which can be harmful to health. Not much different from synthetic fibers, Cotton plays a role in environmental damage. This is because most cotton cultivation around the world uses non-organic pesticides that have harmful properties. The use of pesticides aims to control pests so that farmers can avoid losses and improve production efficiency.

It is estimated that growing cotton requires 200,000 tons of pesticides and 8 million tons of synthetic fertilizers annually. The use of these dangerous pesticides can cause a variety of harmful impacts, ranging from lowering soil quality, and posing health risks to farmers, to polluting waters. The fast fashion industry also has a high dependence on water. Large amounts of water are needed during the dyeing process to wash clothes. Cotton becomes the “thirstiest ” fiber because it requires a very large amount of water. It takes about 700 gallons of water to produce a cotton shirt and 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans. Globally, the industry consumes about 79 billion liters of water annually. Furthermore, wastewater from production that is not reprocessed can pollute the water source with toxins and heavy metals that are harmful to health. The rapid change in clothing trends and the poor quality of fast fashion clothing make consumers shop often and then easily throw away clothes that are not used. This wasteful attitude contributes to the accumulation of textile waste, which is estimated at 92 million tons annually. This textile waste is usually incinerated or simply thrown into landfills and only less than 1% is recycled. Therefore, solutions are needed to deal with the problems caused by the fast fashion trend that has a bad impact on the environment, such as buying clothes from environmental friendly and high-quality materials so that clothes can be used for a long time. Donate clothes that are still suitable for use, do thrift shopping (savings), and convert old clothes are also a solution that can be done. As consumers, we need to be more selective and critical. Don’t buy clothes without considering the quality and the impact it caused, while also trying to change our lifestyles to be more eco-friendly, such as avoiding consumptive behavior and reusing clothes. One alternative fashion trend that can be followed is sustainable fashion Sustainable fashion is the concept of garment production and clothing that is environmentally friendly and ethical, while also keeping in mind the survival of the workers involved in every step of its production.

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