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Why Fast Fashion Is Ruining Our Planet And What You Can Do About It

Did you know that fast fashion is the world's second biggest pollutant next to coal? The average consumer shops at brands like H&M, Forever21, and Zara because the clothes are in style, and the costs are low. But  perhaps what you didn't know about these products, is that the convenience you opt for, has a price. Unfortunately, our purchasing habits as a society are affecting our precious planet, the people in it and our personal health!


Fast fashion significantly contributes to green house emissions because the materials used are often micro-plastics, and synthetic chemicals and dyes. Did you know the average person throws away 46 pounds of clothes per year? The fashion industry accounts for 10% of the world’s total carbon footprint. And what about your favorite pair of jeans? Well, consider this: almost  2000 gallons are required to grow enough cotton for one pair of jeans,. In fact, the fashion industry is one of the largest consumers of water in the world consuming up to  9 trillion liters of water a year. Manufacturing textiles are responsible for 25% of chemicals used worldwide. Not only are we polluting our precious oceans with harmful chemical dyes that affect our eco-system, but we do so completely unaware that the cute t-shirts and pairs of jeans we buy today may be the cause of our grandchildren's health problems later on. It is time for us to do something while we still have a chance.


Let's not even get started on the effects of fast fashion on people around the globe! The documentary True Cost, gives us an insider look on what goes on in textile plants around the globe. The premise of globalization was that it would benefit the whole planet. Developed countries could make materials cheaply and quickly while developing countries were given jobs with living wages. But it is far from the truth. People who work in these plants work in horrifying conditions where they work long hours, and make at the most, three dollars a day. Unfortunately, there are no regulations in place to protect them. The companies who outsource their manufacturing are aware of the problem, and turn a blind eye because the bottom line is what matters most to them. Instead of changing their practices, some of them are coming out with green sustainable fashion lines. But if they're not tending to the problem at the root, they are simply putting a band aid on a problem they have created themselves. This is called greenwashing; the practice of employing greener initiatives to appease the public, or to protect a brand.


Not only is fast fashion hurting our planet, but it's also affecting our health. Nonylphenol is an endocrine disruptor chemical , one of many chemicals that are found in our clothes! Although it has been banned in the European Union and Canada in detergents, it is not banned from our imported clothing and textiles. This chemical remains in our clothes and only comes out after a few washes. It is also estimated that around 1900 individual micro-plastic fibers can be washed off a single piece of clothing, and find their way into our oceans. Micro-plastics are also a problem. They are finding their way into our diet through micro-planktons who mistake them for food. Some of those plastics are made of chemicals harmful to humans which cause serious health side effects, or even terminal illnesses. Another health hazard is the fact that the fashion industry produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions - more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Polyester is also another culprit. It is the most popular fabric used for fashion. But when polyester garments are washed in domestic washing machines, they shed micro-fibres that add to the increasing levels of plastic in our oceans. These micro-fibres are minute and can easily pass through sewage and wastewater treatment plants into our waterways, but because they do not biodegrade, they represent a serious threat to aquatic life. 

So what can you do to protect the planet, its people and your own personal health?

Here are a few suggestions from our team:

1) Create a capsule wardrobe (free of dyes)

We really don't need that many clothing pieces anyway. It is estimated that people do not wear at least 50% of their wardrobes.  If you own 10 pairs of Jeans, do you really wear all ten of them or do you always gravitate to wear the same one or two pairs all the time? This is why capsule wardrobes were created! You only keep what you regularly wear, and you get to save space in the closet, and money in the process! There's lots of inspiration on youtube regarding capsule wardrobes. And if you'd like to be bold, and even make a greater difference, you can opt for an all black, or all white wardrobe and avoid dyed clothing altogether!

2) Thrifting

Thrifting is also an amazing way to shop sustainability because you are essentially rescuing items that could potentially end up in a land fill. Thrifting also allows you to come up with and create your own  unique sense of style outside of the latest fashion trends. You can focus on purchasing timeless pieces, and really getting to know your likes and dislikes. Not to mention that thrifting items allows you to buy high quality items from high fashion brands at a fraction of the price.

3) Online thrifting on websites like Poshmark

If you're an impatient shopper, you may not have the patience required to browse through thrift shops for your most coveted statement pieces. Lucky for you, Poshmark, an online used clothing database allows you to sell and purchase used clothing from the comfort of your own home. How cool is that?

4) Sustainable brands

Want to quit fast fashion all together? Maybe buy fewer pieces a year, at a higher price, but higher quality, that can last you a lifetime instead of a few washes. You don't have to increase your budget for clothing. Calculate on an average year how much you spend on clothes, and spend the same amount of money but on fewer higher quality items! Here's an article with a list of sustainable affordable brands.

5) Donating clothes

Take a quick look at your closet right now. How much of what you see do you actually wear? And how much of it is taking up space when it could be given a new home? Marie Condo in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, suggests only keeping items that serve a purpose or spark joy. We really like that philosophy. Can you find clothing pieces that don't spark joy for you? Put them aside and donate them all. We promise the physical and mental space you will gain by decluttering will be so refreshing!

6) The 30 wears principle

Ever walked into a store and wondered wether or not you should buy a clothing piece? Here's a trick that should help you make a decision. When you see an item, ask yourself if you intend on getting at least 30 wears out of it before you retire it. If the answer is NO, then don't buy it!

7) Community clothes swapping parties

Here's a fun thing you can do to recycle the clothes you no longer wear. Create a community event on Facebook and swap clothing with a group of people. You can swap clothing items you no longer wear for items you actually like!
Now tell us, which one of these tips will you apply this week? Let us know on our social media.
With Love and Compassion,

Team Karunaki

First photo by Flaunter on Unsplash
Second photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash
Third photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash
Fourth photo by Martha Dominguez De Gouveia
Fifth photo by James Hollingworth
Sixth photo by Artificial Photography on Unsplash
Seventh photo by Charles on Unsplash
Eight photo by Squarely on Unsplash
Ninth photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash
Tenth photo by Juan Camilo Navia Maim on Unsplash
Eleventh photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash