The rapid rise of fast fashion has been an issue in this modern era. Driven by prevailing consumerism habit, fast fashion has changed the fashion landscape around the world, including Indonesia. The fast fashion business follows the swift change of fashion trends every season by mass producing clothes and selling them at cheaper prices. This cycle of excessive consumption, production, and disposal has emerged, contributing to significant challenges in waste management.
Fast fashion, characterized by its quick production cycles and affordability, has captivated many consumers. International brands and local retailers compete to deliver the latest trends at low prices, fostering a culture of frequent purchases and rapid turnover. While this model offers accessibility to fashionable clothing, its dark side involves substantial resource consumption, exploitative labor practices, and the generation of immense textile waste.
Consumerism, driven by the influence of social media and societal expectations, has supported the idea that novelty equals value. The desire for trendy looks and frequent wardrobe changes has nurtured a mindset of disposability. This excessive buying creates serious issues with resources such as raw materials and energy, leading to harm to the environment. The allure of owning more stuff results in more waste, as clothes are swiftly thrown away to make room for new purchases.
Fast fashion contributes to our planet’s pollution with its use of cheap and possibly toxic dyes, making this industry one of the largest polluters. Many fast fashion garments are made from synthetic fibers that are non-biodegradable, such as polyester and nylon. These materials can take hundreds of years to break down, leading to a buildup of waste in landfills. The slow decomposition of synthetic fibers contributes to long-term waste management challenges and negatively impacts the environment.
What can we do?
The complex interplay between fast fashion and waste management requires comprehensive strategies to mitigate its effects. Here are some examples we can take to reduce the consequences of waste and contribute to a more sustainable future:
- Practice Mindful Consumption
Choose quality over quantity when buying clothing, electronics, and other products. Invest in items that are durable and have a longer lifespan, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
- Embrace Secondhand Shopping:
Explore thrift stores, consignment shops, and online platforms for secondhand goods. Buying pre-owned items extends their lifecycle and reduces demand for new production.
- Support sustainable brands
Research and support brands that prioritize sustainability, ethical practices, and responsible waste management. These brands often use eco-friendly materials and adopt circular economy principles.
- Raise awareness
Raising awareness among consumers about the environmental and social impacts of fast fashion is crucial. Educational campaigns, workshops, and online resources can empower consumers to make informed choices, opt for quality over quantity, and practice responsible wardrobe management.
- Support Circular Fashion Initiatives
Support fashion brands that adopt circular economy principles, such as take-back programs, repair services, and upcycling initiatives. These approaches extend the lifespan of clothing items and minimize their environmental impact. As consumers, we can engage in responsible consumption by choosing to repair and repurpose clothing rather than discarding it.
UNEP. (2022). Environmental Costs of Fast Fashion. United Nations Environment Programme. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/environmental-costs-fast-fashion
Earth.Org. (2020). Statistics About Fast Fashion Waste. Earth.Org. https://earth.org/statistics-about-fast-fashion-waste/
Rauturier, S. (2023). What Is Fast Fashion? Good On You. https://goodonyou.eco/what-is-fast-fashion/
Pertiwi, A. A. I. (2019). Post-Fast Fashion: The Future of Fashion and the Rise of Resale. The Jakarta Post. https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2019/10/02/post-fast-fashion-the-future-of-fashion-and-the-rise-of-resale.html
Harper’s Bazaar. (2019). Circular Fashion: What It Is and Why It’s More Important Than Ever. Harper’s Bazaar. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/fashion/a27189370/circular-fashion-definition/
The Sustainable Fashion Forum. (n.d.). What Is Circular Fashion? The Sustainable Fashion Forum. https://www.thesustainablefashionforum.com/pages/what-is-circular-fashion#:~:text=Circular%20fashion%20is%20a%20holistic,materials%20out%20of%20old%20materials.