16. Fast Fashion
As fibers like cotton and polyester became cheaper to procure, fast fashion stores began creating items that appeared fashionable at a fraction of the price. In doing so, they created a culture where people buy a lot more clothes and wear them for much longer periods of time, and that overconsumption has spurred countless environmental, economic, and humanitarian problems. Today, we touch on a few of those problems, and discuss where governments, companies, and individuals can make improvements. With special guest Dr. Jennifer Le Zotte: Assistant Professor of U.S. History and Material Culture at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
I am one of the least fashion-inclined people I know, so going into this episode, I didn’t even know what fast fashion was. Luckily, I am surrounded by an amazing team who did, and exposed me to one of the most shocking revelations I’ve had since starting this podcast. Fashion doesn’t just have problems, but it is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and water pollution. I was scratching my head. How is this not the topic of every environmental conversation?
I thought back to when I first learned about the outsized impact of cows on climate. The numbers seemed gargantuan as well. But unlike coal or oil, we eat cows every week. We wear clothes every day. And I wouldn’t be surprised if we turn our heads on these things because they just hit too close to home.
That’s why I’ve found it really refreshing to do these episodes because we really don’t need to be perfect. Dr. Garrett echoed that in the Beef episode, and Dr. Le Zotte echoed it here. Our carbon footprint isn’t going to be zero, but it can be a lot less if we make some informed decisions. And informed is the key word there, since so many sustainable fashion trends like donating and recycling actually create problems of their own. But using less clothes, researching brands, and shopping secondhand can really make a sizable impact. I tend to focus more on policy than individual solutions on the podcast since I know personally, I could never remember to do the perfect thing on every single issue, but fashion was one where the individual choices are impactful and depending on the person, might not even be too challenging.
I hope you enjoy this episode, and I hope you enjoy my journey into the world of fashion!