Slow fashion is so important for the planet today. Climate change is becoming a real threat and the fashion industry is a massive contributor. We need to change the way we produce and consume clothing to protect our health, environment, and ecosystems.
Conscious consumerism is rising, with it, more transparency and eco-friendliness. Consumers now pay more attention to how their clothes are being made. Fashion designers and brands are trying to meet the growing demand for environmentally friendly clothes.
Together with manufacturing partners and various organizations, they are looking for more sustainable business solutions and adopting a slow approach to fashion.
Slow fashion is growing in popularity for valid reasons. Producing high-quality garments that are durable, ethical, and eco-friendly is now a necessity.
How fashion hurts the planet
The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter globally after the oil industry. A climate crisis and irreversible changes to our environment are happening right now. It's more important than ever to change the industry for a more regenerative and circular economy.
The clothing industry, especially with fast fashion, has a disastrous environmental and social impact. It changes our society and the planet in a very harmful way.
I encourage you to quit buying fast fashion altogether. If you don't know where to start, read up my guide on how do I stop wearing fast fashion.
The fashion industry is the world's second-largest clean water polluter after agriculture. It also is responsible for huge textile wastes, massive energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and the increasing levels of plastic in the oceans.
To create fashion, toxic chemicals are used in farming, processing, and dyeing causing enormous pollution to the air, water, and soils. It endangers the life of workers, and ecosystems.
Clothing production has approximately doubled in the last 15 years, with it, the amount of pollution. The apparel industry has been growing at a 4,78% yearly rate since 2011. It is expected to grow by 5,91% during the next three years, as reported by Ganit Singh (2017).
Consumers are spending more money every year to buy more clothing. The fastest-growing clothing category is sportswear with an 8% yearly rate, as reported by McKinsey And Company (2017).
Each year, the fashion industry extracts large amounts of natural resources and sends clothes to landfills. More than USD 500 billion is lost due to a lack of reuse and recycling each year, as reported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2017).
Excessive clothing consumption leads to a catastrophic impact on the environment. CO2 emissions are expected to rise by 77% from 2015 to 2025, and water consumption by 20%, due to the fast-growing fashion industry, as reported by the McKinsey And Company analysis (2016).
In its current state, the fashion industry isn't sustainable. The alternative is an important movement called slow fashion. Change needs to happen quickly in the whole industry.
How slow fashion helps the planet
Slow fashion is an alternative to fast fashion. It's the movement within the apparel and textile industry that drives progress in the field of economic, social and environmental sustainability, concerning production, design, consumption, and usage.
To learn more about how slow fashion fares against fast fashion, read up my comparison Slow Fashion Vs Fast Fashion.
Slow fashion helps the planet because it promotes:
- buying fewer clothes
- choosing quality and durability over quantity
- buying clothes made from sustainable materials
- buying from ethical fashion brands
- shopping clothing made locally
- shopping second-hand clothing
- learning to sew and up-cycling
Slow fashion is leading the ethical consumerism shift in the global fashion world. It aims to stop all unsustainable, unethical, and environmentally damaging practices within the clothing industry.
"Slow fashion is about designing, producing, consuming and living better. Slow fashion is not time-based but quality-based (which has some time components). Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers, and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities, and ecosystems."
- Kate Fletcher, textiles consultant, in her article on The Ecologist
Luckily, consumers have great power. They choose who to support with their money and to be vocal about their expectations.
Thousands of people have already chosen to participate in the slow fashion movement, instead of buying cheap and disposable clothing. This is the way to go to protect the planet and save lives.
Fashion designers and brands should now take massive action to align with their sustainability goals. Consumers also have a crucial role to play.
Start viewing clothes as an investment to reduce your carbon footprint and impact on natural resources. Look after your clothes so they last longer. And learn about high-quality sustainable materials.
Check out my list of the top 10 eco-friendly and sustainable fabrics to get an idea of where to start.
You don't have to give up on affordable and stylish fashion. You just have to buy clothes more responsibly and sustainably.
The slow fashion movement is a revolution. Have you joined yet?
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.