In an interview with a fashion and lifestyle magazine, Thunberg shined the light on how unsustainable the fast fashion industry is.
“The last time I bought something new was three years ago, and it was second-hand. I just borrow things from people I know,” claims Greta Thunberg, a world-renowned climate activist, in a recent interview with Vogue Scandinavia. Her assertion comes as a breath of fresh air because, right now, people discard over 50% of fast fashion clothes within a year of their purchase owing to the ever-changing trends.
Thunberg is known for taking the less trodden path. To many, she is a firebrand, rebelling against the norm. She takes this as a compliment, crediting her Asperger’s syndrome for her personality. In the interview, she explained that people with Asperger’s do not do things merely because others do it. She said, “We do it because we feel it’s the right thing to do, because we enjoy doing it or because we want to do it.” That sets the foundation for her fight against climate change and one of its significant contributors: fast fashion.
What is fast fashion?
As the name suggests, fast fashion is about fashion that goes from the runway to the racks immediately. It involves mass production of clothes at very cheap prices and of poor quality. As runway trends change, so does fast fashion, resulting in the wastage of clothes. As per a UN report, the equivalent of one truck of textiles is burned or landfilled every second. The fashion industry is responsible for 8 to 10% of global carbon emissions. It is also the second-biggest consumer of water. One cotton shirt consumes nearly 2700 litres of water. That is enough water to last three and a half years for one person. In addition to that, one cannot dismiss the human cost of fast fashion. Long hours, poor wages and inhumane conditions underline the process of creating clothes that get discarded in less than a year.
Giving due attention to the urgency of this issue, Thunberg declared, “If you are buying fast fashion, then you are contributing to that industry and encouraging them to expand and encouraging them to continue their harmful process.”
Why is “ethical fast fashion” the need of the hour?
The fast fashion industry is expected to reach 43 billion US$ by 2029. While “ethical fast fashion” may sound like a paradox, it is the only approach to lessen the impact of fast fashion-induced environmental damage. Ethical fashion refers to fashion that aims to reduce its negative impact on the environment. From sourcing the materials to producing, packaging and promoting the clothes — it urges companies to practice sustainable methods. Ethical fashion also includes labor rights and animal welfare. The solutions proposed by ethical fast fashion are two-fold, with it putting the onus of bringing about change on both the company and the consumer. It includes sustainable production and conscious shopping behavior. There are many ways that companies can be more eco-conscious, including sourcing raw material locally, repurposing fabric waste, uplifting the local community and using non-toxic components.
As of 2021, one-third of consumers are willing to choose brands that are using environmentally conscious and sustainable processes. They are even willing to spend more if it means that their negative impact on the environment will lessen. Thunberg asserts that her experiences have taught her that change will come from the bottom up. She explained, “When I say from the bottom up, I don’t mean that we – through our power as consumers make the changes that are necessary. But rather that we as democratic citizens and voters and family members, friends – that we use that power to create change and put enough pressure on people in power.”
“The climate crisis is the biggest elephant that has ever found itself in a room,” professed Thunberg, urging people to do their bit to address it. To reduce our overall carbon footprint as consumers, we must find alternatives to fast fashion, including upcycling our clothes, thrifting, renting and reusing what we already own.