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The Environment and Fashion

Fashion Industry's Impact on the Environment

The fashion industry's impact on our environment is something I have always struggled with; from the production process to the one-season-disposable products we all seem to need more of, the fashion world continues to have a large environmental impact many don’t think about.

The ever-changing fashion/artistic world has always intrigued me, but the cut-throat, overly-competitive nature of these industries kept me away. I was always meant to teach those that need to be taught individually, anyways. That being said, this has not kept me from dabbling in the artistic world in my own way. I learned a lot during my run with Om Sewn Creations, which specialized in women's and children’s clothing and accessories. If you let it, so much material can go to waste; each scrap, every remnant, all the extra buttons that come with new shirts - so...much…waste

Om Sewn began the process of switching to recycled and upcycled materials, while at the same time, I returned to teaching after two-year maternity leave and Om Sewn took a hiatus from production.

Teaching on Martha’s Vineyard gave me the creative freedom to pursue my love of differentiated education, as well as run an entire extracurricular class devoted to creating upcycled products. Through my research for teaching the class, I was introduced to countless, entirely new mediums for artistic expression. Jewelry cut from aluminum cans, pants turned into bags, men’s shirts transformed into dresses, magazine pages into bowls, crocheted VHS tape - we did it all!

Now, while I may not have a classroom to teach, I still have the opportunity to continue upcycling, creating, writing, spreading the word, and educating (both myself, and maybe others that chose to read what I have to say).

The Scary Truth

While there is an overwhelming amount of vital information presented in Jennifer Xiaopei Wu and Li Li’s peer-reviewed chapter, Sustainability Initiatives in the Fashion Industry, it is especially disturbing that according to data presented from the World Bank,


“This dramatic increase in clothing consumption has been fueled by fast fashion, an increasingly bargain-driven consumer, increased accessibility via an expanding online shopping landscape, and more buying power from a growing middle class... Unfortunately, the increased accessibility and affordability of clothing simultaneously propagated not only a culture of excessive consumption but also a quicker disposal of clothing, as exemplified by an approximately 20% decrease in the average number of times a garment is worn before it is abandoned…”


The graph included with this information (pictured below) beautifully depicts the reason for concern; as more and more items are produced and purchased, those products get less and less use before being thrown into our landfills.


the-environment-and-fashion

The Future of Fashion

The fashion industry's impact on our environment is something I have always struggled with; from the production process to the one-season-disposable products we all seem to need more of, the fashion world continues to have a large environmental impact many don’t think about.

At first glance, the amount of information provided in this online peer-reviewed chapter, available here, https://www.intechopen.com/books/fashion-industry-an-itinerary-between-feelings-and-technology/sustainability-initiatives-in-the-fashion-industry , seems a bit overwhelming, but after a few reads, it is clear this information needs to be shared, taught, and learned from. I will refer to further information presented in the chapter in future posts but please if you are interested I encourage you to read Jennifer Xiaopei Wu and Li Li’s peer-reviewed chapter, Sustainability Initiatives in the Fashion Industry.


I will leave you with a small piece of their advice that I especially appreciate, “companies may find that making small but carefully holistically considered steps in the right direction can be much more effective than larger uninformed leaps when it comes to sustainability”.


Jennifer Xiaopei Wu and Li Li (August 6th 2019). Sustainability Initiatives in the Fashion Industry, Fashion Industry - An Itinerary Between Feelings and Technology, Riccardo Beltramo, Annalisa Romani and Paolo Cantore, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.87062. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/books/fashion-industry-an-itinerary-between-feelings-and-technology/sustainability-initiatives-in-the-fashion-industry

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Michelle Spain

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