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Fast Fashion vs. Sustainability

Fast Fashion is an environmental disaster. According to a recent article from CBS News, Ghana (West Africa) is experiencing an eye-popping, yet barely talked about, environmental disaster due to America’s rise and rampant production of “Fast Fashion.”

For those of you who haven’t visited our About Us page, the mastermind, designer, and CEO of Black Russian Label, Joanna de’Shay, was born in Accra, Ghana on the western coast of Africa, so this issue hits close to home.

“The rise of fast fashion in the United States is supporting an invisible "salvage market" that sees American clothes waste shipped to faraway countries where it fills marketplaces, clogs up beaches and overwhelms dumps,” reported CBS News.

Courtesy of CBS News

CBS News continued to report that Americans have increased their buying of clothes five-fold in the last 30 years. After only wearing these items a maximum of seven times on average, the clothes are thrown out and has directly caused issues in countries such as Ghana.

With a population of about 30 million people, Ghana is receiving almost 15 million clothing items every week, causing an environmental crisis that currently has no end in sight. Over 40 percent of all clothing “donations” from the United States end up in overflowing landfills in Ghana or even in the ocean, causing a trash pile up on most of the beaches in Ghana.

While the country tries to upcycle a lot of the clothing, the items are of extremely poor quality, another issue brought on by the United States’ obsession with Fast Fashion.

"Before they used to have good quality clothes, but now there's a lot of trash," Samuel Oteng, fashion designer and project manager for the Or Foundation, said. "I feel like waste is being built into the model of fast fashion: Overproduce, overproduce, overproduce. In the end, people wear clothes for just like two weeks, and then just discard them. The waste doesn't end up in America. Ultimately it ends up here in Kantamanto (Ghana’s flea market)."

Courtesy of CBS News

Although this problem stems from larger issues, that shouldn’t stop someone from doing their part to help end this environmental crisis.

Here are some simple, easy upcycling and fast fashion reducing tricks you can use to help curb this disaster right here at home.

Look at the labels: Where did your clothes come from? Are you supporting ethically made clothes?

Hate the fuzzy sweater? Give it a shave! Lay your sweater on a flat, clean surface. Then, take a fabric shaver and gently graze it across your sweater. This can also be done to sweatpants. After this is completed, use a lint roller to mop up and TA DA! You have a “new” sweater ready for fall!

Take a moment to repair: Hemming your pants, blouse, or shirt isn’t that big of a deal, promise! Try to replace your button, add a zipper, or visit a tailor for an easy fix before you decide to donate or throw out your clothes.

Turn pants into shorts: Do your pants still fit your waist, but maybe have gotten a little short? Make them into shorts! Easy peasy!

Invest in your clothes: No, we aren’t talking about the stock market (however, if you do invest on Wall Street, make sure you pick some ethical companies). Although buying cheaper clothes is appealing, take the time to save for something that’s made with a higher quality. These clothes will last longer and aren’t made in large amounts, leaving you with poor quality pieces that create issues like we mentioned above. Think about it; if you buy a $10 shirt that lasts through maybe seven washes but can buy a $30 shirt that lasts through 100 washes, you are not only saving the environment but also some money in the long run.

Keep it local: Always, always, always try to keep it local. Most local businesses strive for quality and locally produced goods. Also, you’ll be helping influence a person’s livelihood and not the profit margins of large corporations.


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