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One of the hottest topics in sustainability seems to be the fashion industry, mostly because it has a massive and highly negative environmental footprint.

Fast Fashion Footprint

From the fast fashion factory conditions and emissions to the disposal and type of dyes used, to the materials used, which are often cotton crops dusted with pesticides or petroleum-based textiles, or even fabrics or materials requiring mistreatment or the death of animals. Not to mention the mass amount of waste in the fashion industry when they overproduce and undersell, ultimately, much of this clothing is either burned or ends up in a landfill or hillside in a third-world country where you think you are donating your clothes.

For all these reasons, PlanIt has become focused on fashion education and even gave a remote presentation about the topic to a school in DC! We have partnered with businesses in Hawaii to help them increase their sustainable fashion inventory and even started a series with Yoga Under the Palms related to conscious consumerism- the first event was all things related to eco-fashion.

textile waste from the fast fashion industry and overconsumption of clothing

The problems with Fast Fashion


We need to understand that our desire to consume more and purchase according to fashion trends is the primary problem. The onus is, therefore, on us to do something about it. The fashion industry wasn’t always this way. Clothing was once made slower, under humane conditions, and with better quality. As a society, we purchased less and purchased less often, but things have changed.

There are now counterfeits, fashion bloggers, social media stars, and platforms that make individuals feel they must always have the latest and most fabulous outfit and only wear it once- thank you fashion haul videos. There were once different seasons in the fashion industry, but now, aside from high fashion, clothing is created every couple of weeks or weekly with brands like Shein. Clothing has gotten cheaper and cheaper, and the quality has worsened. Now, you may only wear the item a few times before you throw it away, but someone still made that clothing, which still came from resources, and that matters.

facts on fast fashion

Our Lack of Concern

Should we care how our things are made, by whom, and out of what? Yes. Do we? Sometimes, it depends on who you ask. There is such a disconnect between what we buy online and in stores that these questions about how, what, and who often never end a customer's mind.

There have been lawsuits, documentaries, and public campaigns related to sweatshops and child labor. Sometimes, things change, and sometimes, the culprits get more crafty. I was shocked to learn that dozens of Chinese sweatshops set up locations in Italy so that they could continue their regular method of inhumane operation, but now attach the label "made in Italy" since the "made in China" label often has a more negative connotation- especially among the youth.

Your Influence on Fast Fashion

If you are a brand in the fashion industry, you can seek to slowly transform not only your materials but also your practices and the timed release of your products to be more sustainable. You can practice slow fashion and treat your workers right. You can source ethical and environmentally responsible materials produced in socially and environmentally responsible factories. You can even help create new sustainable industries where they are lacking, teach farmers and other producers how to do things right, and then hire them. When selecting fabrics, you can seek out plant-based, non-harmful dyes and organic plant materials.

This can go far beyond where you source from. You can literally educate others to produce better, inspire peers to purchase better, and give customers options to shop better.

You can have positive impacts in many different places and you don’t have to do it all at once, but you should start somewhere. And well sure maybe it’s not that easy to source the most ethical and sustainable materials in the exact colors, textures, and feel that you want, think about how much easier it is now than it was 5 years ago and 10 years ago. It will only get easier as the demand increases, but in the mean time, increase your standards, simplify your needs, and educate your customers on your sustainable choices.

With all new innovation, it will always start as more difficult to obtain and more expensive, but with economies of scale, the scale will shift. If we switch society's demand curve, the price on the other things will ultimately go up, and the world will become a better place- this same logic should be applied to food systems and essentially anything we consume.

symbols to look for when purchasing clothes

I'm not suggesting you pour all of your capital into these radical changes if your current product line is the complete opposite of sustainable. We do not want to bankrupt you :) We want to guide you on a path of sustainable, ethical food!

Make a Plan of Action

Businesses don't just change with the snap of a finger. You need to do a little evaluation as the first step to change. Ask yourself:

1) Where can you cut costs?

2) Where can you trim the fat that is being wasted unnecessarily to reallocate?

Now let’s see how much money you can come up with monthly, over six months, and over a year from this trimming. Work with the PlanIt Branding team to develop and short and long term strategy to achieve your goal of positive impact.

The reality is that customers are changing all over the world and they are becoming more educated about how their dollars are spent and how they want their dollars to be spent. There is an increasing trend of "vote with your dollar" and we are 100% on board.

The youth is leading the trend of transparency and sustainability, partially because of climate change. Thanks to an increased awareness of corporate policies and societal impact from media and social media, policy change worldwide. People are realizing that their dollars can make a difference and they’re willing to spend more and spend it right, so it is an opportunity to tap into the customer base and gain their loyalty.

Live on Oahu, but didn't make it to our last sustainable fashion event? Subscribe to our email list for an update on future events and check out our instagram for recap photos and videos!


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