Forget Fast Fashion: Slow Fashion Industry’s Sustainable Efforts

Sustainable Slow Fashion

Sustainable fashion

Sustainable fashion

 

Imagine working all day in a crowded, hot, factory with harsh chemicals that makes it hard to breath. All of a sudden, people begin trying to frantically evacuate the building. You have no idea what is going on until you see the flames. The building’s foundation begins to crumble. You fight in the chaos to escape and hope to get out before it’s too late. Welcome to the slow fashion world.

This has been the reality for far too many people.

The ‘True Cost’ documentary opened people’s eyes to the horrors of the fast fashion industry. The video shows the harsh treatment and conditions of the people making our clothes. You may have never thought about these people, but now that you know, what can you do to help? Well, you can stop supporting companies that are not using ethical manufacturing techniques. Instead, get your clothing from companies focused on ethical and eco-fashion.

Companies in the slow fashion industry use sustainable methods to create apparel that last, while practicing ethical and environmentally-friendly methods. Apparel produced using these methods usually cost slightly more, but greatly benefit both the people behind the clothes and the environment.

You can make a difference by paying attention and asking questions about how your clothing is really made. Learn more about fast fashion in Slow Down: Fast Fashion Has Harmful Effects.

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What is Slow Fashion?

Slow fashion describes the process of manufacturing clothing ethically, taking into consideration the workers and environment. It ensures the workers are paid fair wages and are provided a safe working environment. Ethical manufacturing methods are most costly, resulting in more expensive clothes. However, they are made from better-quality materials, which are more durable and will last longer than clothing manufactured using fast fashion methods.

You may pay $10 for a t-shirt from a brand producing their clothes through fast fashion techniques, but how long will the shirt really last? Its colour may begin to fade and the lesser quality fabric may begin to break within a couple of months. Now every few months you are buying a new $10 t-shirt to replace the one the previous one. Whereas, you could have spent $30 on t-shirt manufactured using ethical slow fashion and it would have lasted years. Avoiding making this choice benefits the companies using fast fashion techniques because a single consumer is spending more money on their products in the long-term.

The cheap cost of fast fashion is also prompting consumers to purchase more than necessary. Think about all the clothes in your closet. Now think about how much you actually use regularly. For a fast-paced industry like fashion, trends are constantly changing and those trying to keep-up may be tempted to purchase poorly produced, lower quality clothing simply due to the speed of its release. Fast fashion produces large quantities of cheap clothing quickly. Using safer ethical practices may take more time, but is worth the wait in the end.

 

Environmental Benefits of Slow Fashion

Can you believe that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry, only after the oil industry? It makes sense when you think about the harmful processes used to make most clothing and the amount of waste it creates. Slow fashion companies make their apparel, while keeping long-term sustainability in mind. They use safe and ethical practices, which reduce the use of toxic chemicals. They also aim to make the product more durable, so that it will last and you will not need to make purchases as often. Ultimately, the idea is that lowering consumption will decrease the need for production and the amount of waste.2

Fast fashion uses synthetic and inorganic fabrics for apparel that are not created to last and are not biodegradable. A vast majority of their clothing ends up in landfills. Companies practicing ethical manufacturing use natural and eco-friendly fabrics. Fabrics such as organic cotton, silk, lyocell, and alpaca are natural and eco-friendly.3 However, just because a company uses natural fabrics does not mean that they are practicing environmentally-safe methods.3

When fabrics are treated, many companies use harsh chemicals that are harmful to the environment. For example, organic cotton is a natural fiber that is grown without the use of pesticides, but may be dyed and treated with formaldehyde and other environmentally-damaging products. Looking for clothes that are naturally dyed and labelled “Certified Organic”, sustainable, or eco-friendly is a fool-proof way to make sure you are avoiding clothes created using these methods.2 Science is also changing the fashion industry by developing technologies that are creating new ways to make fashion “greener”. New methods of creating, dyeing, treating, and recycling fabrics are being created.3

textile waste, fast fashion, the effects of fast fashion, slow fashion, sustainability, sustainable fashion

Slow Fashion and Human Trafficking

Did you know that the fashion industry makes $3 trillion dollars a year and only 2% of clothing companies receive their products from suppliers that ensure workers a fair wage?1 Does that sound fair to you? Especially when considering that the companies using fast fashion methods are creating negative effects for our environment and are increasing the likelihood of human trafficking.

Apparel made from fast fashion techniques is inexpensive because of the low cost of labour. Factories producing clothing with fast fashion methods are generally located in developing countries that have low or no standards of labour. Where ethical manufacturing companies tend to utilize local materials and resources to help develop local business,2 fast fashion companies are taking advantage of locals. They force people to work long shifts in unsafe working conditions and pay them little money.

The True Cost of Fast Fashion, slow fashion, garment workers, sustainable fashion, ethical fashion

Still from “The True Cost” movie

 

Slow fashion recognizes the impact that clothing can make on society. Clothing companies practising ethical manufacturing ensure the workers making their clothes are in a safe working environment and paid fairly. They also make sure that the workers are of an appropriate age. Even though these companies are spending more money on labour, they are making an impact in people’s lives by doing business ethically and helping to reduce the number of victims of human trafficking. Forced labour is a common form of human trafficking. Approximately, 21 million people are currently being exploited, including a large number of women and children.

 

Ethically Manufacturing: How to tell how your clothes are made

By buying only ethically manufactured clothing, you can make a difference. Before buying clothes, you can make sure that they are made with slow fashion techniques through research. Or for a more simple way, you can download one of the various apps that can provide immediate information about a product by scanning its bar code. GoodGuide and Buycott Barcode Scanner are a few of the apps that can inform you if a product is ethically made.

Some big-name companies practising fast fashion may be surprising. If you are looking to stop buying unethically made clothing, begin by researching the big name brands. Companies known to mass produce clothes and sell them cheaply are often involved in the fast fashion industry. To help refill your closet, try shopping at second-hand stores. Thrift stores often hold vintage clothing for a bargain price. By recycling and up-cycling apparel, you are reducing waste.

You can also research which companies are leaders in the ethical manufacturing industry. A few of these companies include Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Kowtow and, United By Blue4. Finding companies that practice ethical manufacturing and that fit your style take time, but by being more conscious of where your clothes are coming from you can greatly impact the lives of others. Now that you know about all the benefits of buying clothing made with slow fashion techniques, you can help by informing and encouraging your friends and family to shop ethically too.

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Treasure Box Kids is a children’s clothing company that practices ethical manufacturing. We currently have two lines of children’s clothing: Treasure Box Kids USA is made in the USA and Little Maisha is made in Kenya. The Little Maisha line will employ women in danger of becoming victims of human trafficking. By economically developing the women they can help support their families and prevent family members from becoming victims.

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About the Author

Carolyn Bailey founded Treasure Box kids,  an online retailer for kid’s fashions based in Orlando, FL. in 2006 and has since dedicated her time to manufacturing and selling clothes that are high quality and ethically made. Treasure Box Kids features two lovely lines, “Treasure Box Kids USA by Carolyn Bailey,” which is manufactured in the USA and “Little Maisha,” which benefits victims of human trafficking. “Little Maisha” allowed Carolyn to launch efforts to help educate and employ Kenyan women, ultimately preventing them from becoming human trafficking victims. Through Carolyn’s passion, leadership and experience, Treasure Box Kids has emerged as an expert in the children’s clothing industry. For more information about Treasure Box Kids and its cause, please visit www.treasureboxkids.com.