Arcadia Boutique’sEco-Friendly Fashion

The Impact of Fashion

You might remember the scene from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ where Miranda Priestly takes offense at Andy Sachs’s seeming indifference to fashion. She goes on a litany of how everything in fashion is connected and in a way has something to do with Andy. She also tells Andy that the things she refers to as ‘stuff’ represents the millions of dollars and countless jobs that were generated from the decisions made in that room.

This scene puts into perspective how many people fail to see the true impact of fashion to our daily lives. They are mostly focused on the finished product and make judgments based on how the collection or the garment looks on the runway or on the rack. But only a few are able to take into account that a whole slew of industries and resources were thrown into the production of a few simple and affordable garments so that we can keep up with the trend.

From the beginning
The impact of the fashion industry on the environment starts from the harvesting of the raw materials needed to produce the item. There are unsustainable industry practices during farming of natural components, as well as during the production of synthetic components.

Many farm owners have already chosen to produce only the high-value crops needed by the fashion industry versus the crops for food. This is a misguided thought because the impacts of lesser food will be felt much later when things are almost irreversible. There are even cash crops that are very resource hungry and compete directly with food crops for precious water and soil nutrients.

Stiff competition
Some indigenous species of plants cannot compete with the cash crops. Farmers unwittingly clear vast tracts of land and kill many species of plants in the process. This lowers the chances of many plants and trees to survive as a species because their natural habitats have been encroached and there is little genetic variety to weather through environmental changes.

Processing and production of certain raw materials have proven to be resource hogs as well. They consume a lot of power and directly compete with the water needed by the community. Dyeing these materials are also a cause for concern because the water they use is often dumped untreated into waterways.

Pollution
Pollution is an overlooked by-product of the fashion industry. Aside from the pollution caused by untreated water used in production, marine researchers have often reported the presence of microfibres in fish stomachs. Microfibres get into the ocean through factory wastewater and the water that we discard when we wash our clothes.

Fashion also contributes to air pollution. Most fashion brands have their items produced in developing countries where energy production depends on dirty sources like coal and oil. Factories there often work round-the-clock to meet client and market demands. So, these production lines tend to use more energy and therefore require power companies to produce more dirty electricity.

The impact of fashion, both good and bad, really cannot be denied. The bright side is, consumers are now becoming more aware of what they are wearing thanks to the information readily available on the Internet. People are now demanding that their favourite brands be more sensitive to the environment and clean up their act. Social media has been a great platform for calling out brands to be more ethical and responsible. Indeed, fashion is more than just the current trend that you see on billboards and magazines. It is a whole industry that is now responding to the sensibilities of its consumers. They now realize that it makes much more sense to let their consumers feel less guilty, knowing that what they are purchasing comes from a sustainable business model, rather than keep them in the dark and deal with the consequences later.