In 2016 the fashion sustainability movement has gained traction along with the rise of the fast fashion industry. However, these two are more than just a trendy hashtag on social media but this industry has environmental and economic implications that are harming the world economy. For example, according to Vox.com an estimated 25 billion pounds of textiles are generated in the US alone and an average of 70 pounds are thrown away even though 95% of the clothing can be recycled. Which caused an environmental crisis, fast fashion is projected to make up 60% of all carbon emissions because these clothes are so cheap, they are usually thrown away after a few washes and they are filling up landfills according to Forbes.
Forbes also reported that countries such as China and India are facing water shortages due to the mass production of cotton facing the choice of clean drinking water or cotton production. There is also the issue of labor with the dangerous working conditions and long hours there have been reports of fires and building collapses. The Clean Clothes Campaign is committed to bringing making sure that factory workers have safe working conditions. The 2012 Tazreen Factory Fire in Bangladesh claimed the lives of 1,134 workers and The Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 which brought attention to their dangerous conditions.
Greenwashing and false “Made In USA” claims
As a response for fashion brands to become more sustainable by consumers and influencers brands have been reported to “Greenwash” or make false or unclear claims of being eco-friendly or having sustainable practices. H&M’s Conscious Collection was called out in 2019 for claims that every piece in the collection was made from sustainable source materials such as organic cotton without providing enough evidence. The brand also was featured in Now This Earth’s YouTube video HowTo Recycle Your Old Clothes|One Small Step that same year highlighting their garment collection program and being more transparent with their Conscious Collection. Consciouslifeandstyle.com reported some ways to identify greenwashing with fashion brands which can be difficult for the everyday consumer.
Forbes reported that fashion brand Fashion Nova “Made In USA” label was creating American Sweatshops with possible unfair labor and ethical practices. The article also stated that this label gives the consumer a false sense of security that the brand is ethical and sustainable. All in all, consumers must make an effort to research their brands to ensure that their purchases align with their values which is becoming more important among the fashion community.