Source: Unsplash.com | Francois Le Nguyen
You will go to meet your friends. You quickly put on some clothes and went to your room to leave the house. You will dress very simply; You don't often have such glittery, sequined pieces in your wardrobe anyway. You reached for a very basic, white cotton t-shirt . Of course, also the jeans to combine it with. You put them both on and you are ready. Now let's look at the background: The t-shirt you're wearing is cotton, so it required a large amount of water and pesticides to be produced. 2,700 liters of water to be exact. Your jeans needed 3,781 liters of water when they were produced. Yes yes, you're not reading that wrong. Of course, the cost of what you wear to nature is not limited to this: We do not even mention the carbon emissions that occur in the production processes, the amount of wastewater generated during the dyeing of fabrics, and the fact that both pieces will turn into waste within a few years as they become 'unwearable' as a result of the fast fashion industry. Yes, so we have made a small introduction to the real cost of fast fashion to the world. This is just the beginning…
When we talk about the real cost of fast fashion, many doors open in front of us one after another: its cost to nature, its cost to humanity, its cost to the human body and more. The first is the massive consumption of bulk water that occurs during the clothing production process. Approximately 93 billion cubic meters of water is consumed every year in the ready-made clothing industry! This is an industry where the world's resources, especially water resources, are used intensively and irresponsibly, and every fast fashion product we buy expands this industry.
Source: Unsplash.com | Thomas Millot
Right behind water consumption comes carbon emissions , and it is actually possible to summarize the whole situation in one sentence: The fast fashion industry is responsible for approximately 10% of global carbon accumulation. It is in second place after oil. Moreover, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase by more than 50% by 2030 , so the outlook is not good either. If you ask how it is: The majority of our clothes actually consist of petroleum-based ingredients made from fossil fuels such as polyester, acrylic and lycra. In other words, carbon emissions begin to emerge at the first stage of the cycle, in production. Not to mention the microplastics that these materials leave behind with every wash and the plastic pollution that microplastics create in the oceans. That's not all: ready-made clothing products, which are produced with less durable materials because they are required to be produced quickly and affordably, are thrown directly into the trash when they complete their rather short lifespan. The result: huge garbage heaps of textile waste . What do you think happens to these piles? They are burned en masse, again causing the release of horrendous amounts of carbon dioxide gas.
Of course, there is another factor that is affected by all the processes and manufacturing methods of the fast fashion industry: our body . Our skin has the ability to absorb almost everything that touches it, including the chemicals contained in our clothes. These chemicals contain various toxic, carcinogenic and hormone disrupting substances . A recent study found dangerous chemicals in 63% of products tested from 20 different textile brands (some of which are today's fashion giants).
Source: Unsplash.com | Matthew Hamilton
We have touched on many topics such as water use, carbon emissions, textile waste, its effect on the skin, and we cannot finish enough to say about the real cost of fast fashion. There is another big topic we need to address: unfair working conditions . We see that labor is exploited and workers' rights are violated in many developing countries of the world. There are roughly 40 million garment workers in the world today, and most of them work in very poor conditions for wages well below what they deserve. Simply put, we know that fast fashion products that go through long and intense chemical processes (such as dyeing and bleaching of clothes) cause serious illnesses and even deaths in these people.
Source: The New York Times
There are huge gaps in the operation not only in terms of health but also in worker safety. You may have heard of the Rana Plaza Incident . A disaster in Bangladesh in 2013, in which 1133 textile workers lost their lives and 2000 workers were injured as a result of the collapse of Rana Plaza. The frightening thing is that it later turns out that textile workers repeatedly warned the authorities that there were cracks inside the building, and these warnings were not taken seriously. There is a terrible indifference.
Of course, it is possible to write pages and talk for hours about the true cost of fast fashion. We aim to cover each topic in detail in our upcoming articles.