The cost of fast fashion

What to watch to educate yourself on this ugly reality

Some data on the “fast fashion” market

In 2021, it is no longer acceptable to proclaim yourself blissfully ignorant of the reality of fast fashion. But while I might take for granted that each one of you knows plenty about the impact of the textile industry, I am sure too many of you are quick to look the other way.

Hence, I take it upon myself to enforce the Orange Clockwork method and shake some shoulders – maybe slap some faces with a fish or two. There is a fascinating horror in the ripple effect of fast fashion. We are talking waste, pollution, working conditions. We are talking about one single t-shirt made with thousands of liters of water, 500000 tons of microfibers diving straight into the ocean every year, landfills covered in clothes we no longer find fashionable.

I will not bore you with data today: I’ve never been about convincing people with numbers. And truly, it seems the only alluring figures are discounts and those 4,99 euro on a Pull&Bear t-shirt. Yet images can be a powerful ally; so, you don’t have to take my word, you can just rely on even more convincing sources.

The True Cost, a raw look at the reality of the textile industry

To this day, The True Cost is still the most famous documentary on fast fashion. The film offers an unfiltered glimpse of the reality of the textile industry, starting its investigation right from the source- Bangladesh.

When the Dhaka garment industry collapsed in 2013, the ugly truth we pretend not to see became rather clear for those 1134 people that tragically died. Fast fashion is a murderous business – for people, for animals, for the environment. This documentary has been the turning point for many in the audience: it’s hard to ignore enslaved workers, polluted rivers, the incredible amount of avoidable waste, when it gets so evident that we, the consumers, are the whole reason why.

The True Cost shows you how you’re constantly driven to update your wardrobe, how your desires are calculated by the algorithms of consumerism. And it forces you to face the music of neglected lives and a dying planet – all for your brand new, cheap pair of flare jeans.

The RIverBlue documentary on water pollution

RiverBlue is another great watch if you’re ready to be shocked by the environmental effects of fast fashion. This documentary specifically focuses on water pollution, showing the hydrosuicide that’s taking place thanks to textile factories.

The toxic chemicals released into rivers and seas by these factories render water undrinkable, kill the ecosystem, cause diseases and deaths. The documentary uncovers the disrespectful disposal of toxic waste into rivers, and the constant attempt of the fashion industry to hide this harsh reality.

Some TED Talks on sustainable fashion: alternative and creative proposals

If you want to get your facts just right but have little time on your hands, you can also opt for a TED talk on the topic. Maxine Bédat is an inventive entrepreneur committed to contributing to sustainable fashion. In her TED talk, she explains the human and environmental cost of cheap apparel, providing solutions to take a more ethical direction as a consumer.

The researcher Clara Vuletich has devoted her life to sustainable fashion: in her TED talk, she discusses the garment lifecycle, the impact of fast fashion and a few creative solutions to embrace a more sustainable approach.

There’s really no excuse left: education is key, and you have all the resources in the world to learn. Our choices affect the planet every day, so it’s about time we realize the impact we have, and consequently, the change we can make. If so, why not make it for the better?

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