Under the guidance of French president Emmanuel Macron at the recent G7 summit in Biarritz, 32 fashion companies signed a “fashion pact” to emphasize sustainability in the industry. They included some of the largest luxury brands in the market — Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Prada — as well as “fast fashion” producers, including H&M Group and Zara.
According to a UN study, the fashion industry is responsible for about 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of all waste water and consumes more energy than the airline and shipping industries combined.
The figures are disputed but the message is clear: fashion is a major polluter, and in an industry that depends on human desire for the new, questions hang over it like a dead weight.
Fast fashion is a phrase coined to describe inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Critics say that the industry has a large carbon footprint, and creates water and air pollution. Clothes are often manufactured in poor working conditions.
Garments are manufactured cheaply, and are expected to have a short life. One in three young women, the biggest segment of consumers, consider garments worn once or twice to be old. In the UK alone, consumers sent 300,000 metric tonnes of textiles to be burned or dumped in landfill in 2018.
Without rapid reform, the fashion industry — of which fast fashion is the dominant player — could be responsible for a quarter of the Earth’s carbon budget by 2050.
Things you can do to reduce your fashion footprint:
■ Commit to wearing every piece 30 times. If we doubled the amount of time we kept clothes for, we would cut our fashion emissions by 44 percent.
■ Get smart about fibers. Cheap cotton and synthetics come with huge environmental footprints. Cotton uses unsustainable amounts of water and pesticide. Go for hemp blended with organic cotton and silk and lyocel/modal.
■ Treat cotton as a luxury fiber. Buy products certified as organic to be free of the pesticide burden and plan to keep them for years.
■ Wash clothes less often. The average laundry cycle releases hundreds of thousands of tiny fragments of plastic from synthetic fibers into waterways. Put jeans in the freezer and remove dirt when frozen. Fleeces have been shown to release the most plastic fibers.
■ Use a clothes and accessories rental service.
■ Delete shopping apps from your phone and swear off insta-shopping for fashion. Go shopping for clothes in a shop. Feel the fiber, interrogate the structure — especially the seams — and make sure it fits.
■ If dry cleaning is a must, use an eco-friendly process: conventional dry cleaning harms the soil, air and water.
(The Guardian with staff writer)
1. What is “fast fashion?” Have you been to any fast fashion stores? What are the plus points of those stores and their products?
2. What are the disadvantages of “fast fashion?”
3. How long do you typically keep your clothes for?
4. What action has the international community taken to tackle the environmental impact of the fashion industry?
5. What changes can we make in our daily lives to reduce the carbon footprint of our clothing?
(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
1. fashion n.
時尚；時裝 (shi2 shang4; shi2 zhuang1)
2. sustainability n.
永續性 (yong3 xu4 xing4)
3. human desire phr.
人類的慾望 (ren2 lei4 de5 yu4 wang4)
4. mass-market retailer phr.
大眾市場零售商 (da4 zhong4 shi4 chang3 ling2 shou4 shang1)
5. latest trends phr.
最新的流行 (zui4 xin1 de5 liu2 xing2)
6. carbon footprint phr.
碳足跡 (tan4 zu2 ji1)
7. synthetic fiber phr.
合成纖維 (he2 cheng2 xian1 wei2)
8. fit v.
合身 (he2 shen1)
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