The fast fashion industry is having a devastating effect on both the environment and the people involved in making our clothes. Fast fashion is defined as garments produced in high volumes, at low cost (underpaid garment workers) and of low quality, in response to the latest trends. With most of this clothing being produced in the developing world, some of the impacts include human rights violations and toxic production processes. Once we become aware of these issues, we can start to be more mindful of the brands we choose to support, ones whose values align with yours.
The Dark Side of the Fast Fashion Industry
See below for some of the ways the fast fashion industry is having a negative impact on our planet:
The production of fast fashion contributes to approximately 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides and when they are released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels such as coal, they create a ‘blanket’ effect over the Earth’s atmosphere, trapping in heat, contributing to climate change. Many of the fast fashion that is manufactured today is made in the developing world, where the primary energy source is non-renewable energy, increasing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why it was important to us at KEEPER Denim from the beginning that we reduce our impact on carbon emissions. We worked with Climate Neutral to measure our 2020 carbon emissions, offset our entire footprint by investing in climate change solutions, and launching a plan to reduce our emissions in the future.
Synthetic chemicals are used in the growing of raw materials such as conventional cotton, as well as the dying of various fabrics. The contaminated waste water run-off from these processes is often dumped into streams in surrounding areas, polluting local waterways. That’s why at KEEPER Denim we source our denim from ISKO and the denim has been awarded with 2 prestigious certifications the EU Ecolabel and the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. These certify that the denim meets high environmental standards and contains no harmful substances, making it safer for both us and our planet.
Sandblasting is one of the most common methods used to fade the colour of denim today. A high-pressure hose filled with sand is used to literally blast it onto the denim, which fades and softens the denim at the same time. Although this may make jeans look amazing, it can be harmful to the health of the factory workers. They breathe in small particles from the sand which can become trapped in their lungs, causing illnesses such as lung fibrosis and emphysema. Many factory workers in the developing world are aware of the impact this process can have on their health, however they are forced to continue to work, earning as low as $70 a month just so they can support their family. At KEEPER Denim we have chosen to use a more ethical and sustainable alternative. Once our jeans have been sewn together, our denim artisans use a brush to lightly fade the fabric. This minimises our impact on the environment and creates safer working conditions for our garment workers by reducing their exposure to chemicals during the manufacturing process.
Knowing these negative impacts of the fast fashion industry is important so you can start to question where your clothes come from, how they were made and demanding more transparency from brands, so you can assess the true impact of your clothes.