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“Fashion brands, I’m talking to you: Enough is enough. Stop making me think it is normal to shop all the time, not just when I need something. You make flimsy dresses in cheap factories, and I snap them up. You drop new items every day, then send me emails–freakily customized to my tastes–telling me I must buy them right now, or they will sell out. And I believe you. To make room for new outfits, I schedule regular trips to Goodwill to donate the old ones, which will likely end up in a landfill anyway. (In California alone, Goodwill spends $7 million on dumping clothes.)
For the past three decades, fashion brands have perfected the art of manufacturing cheap clothing by relying on poorly paid labor in developing countries, inventing inexpensive plastic-based materials, and increasing the speed of production. And because most brands project what customers will want to buy six to nine months in advance, designers rarely get their predictions right. There are always some looks that nobody wants to buy. When brands churn out thousands of new looks every season, the problem of unsold inventory just scales up. The New York Times reports that a power plant in Vasteras, the Swedish town where H&M launched, relies partly on burning products that the company cannot sell as a fuel source.
Churning out so many clothes has enormous environmental costs that aren’t immediately obvious to consumers. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the fashion industry is contributing the the rapid destruction of our planet. A United Nations report says that we’re on track to increase the world’s temperature by 2.7 degrees by 2040, which will flood our coastlines, intensify droughts, and lead to food shortages. Activists, world leaders, and the public at large are just beginning to reckon with the way the fashion industry is accelerating the pace of climate change.”
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