three pairs of jeans in different tones of blue

The extended impacts of fast-fashion

You could be forgiven for thinking that fast-fashion was only bad for the environment. The eco-noise tends to drown out other areas, but we’re here to lift the lid on all dangerous areas of fast-fashion. This week we’ll take a look at how fast-fashion impacts on people and the surrounding communities. 

That’s right; this issue doesn’t just affect those employed in factories; entire towns can be harmed by fast-fashion.

When we talk about the impact on communities, we’re looking at the entire process, from those who source materials to those shipping tonnes of fast-fashion across the world. Let’s not waste any time. We’re ready to expose how fast-fashion impacts on people.

piles of clothes being folded

Polluting waterways

Not where you thought we’d start, eh? After all, when we hear factory, we think emissions. In fact, water pollution is one of the biggest issues to tackle. A lot of our fast-fashion comes from countries like China, Bangladesh and India where there are little restrictions on what can be dumped into waterways. Not just the ocean, but the water that people bathe in and even drink. And of course, all waterways lead somewhere, typically our oceans – eventually.

It can take up to 22,000 litres of water to create a pair of denim jeans, from harvesting cotton to dyes and acid washes. Each process results in polluted water. Xintang, in south China produces 1 in 3 pieces of denim, if you look at the area from a satellite view, the water has a blue tint to it to signify the dye used to make jeans. The same water people use in their homes.

It can take up to 22,000 litres of water to create a pair of denim jeans

It’s an uncomfortable thought to imagine all the health implications water pollution is having on areas like these, but it’s essential to know. It’s a great way to consider our actions when we head to the high street.

satellite view of blue water meeting orange water and greenery

How fast fashion impacts on people in factories

Poor working conditions are talked about a lot; it’s something as a society we’re being made more aware of. Although shockingly, it still happens on our door step, here in the UK. In some areas abroad, workers work long 12+ hour shifts to earn as much as possible, only to be given £25 at the end of the month to feed their family.

Being paid a fair wage is only the beginning of the worries for some of these workers. The processes that happen in these factories all over the world are incredibly harmful to workers and communities. Sandblasting and bleaching are standard processes in factories to get a highly-desired finish on items of clothing. Immediately you would hope there were protective clothing and the right ventilation for workers, but it’s not guaranteed. Fumes from processes like acid washing are not only inhaled by workers, they are also released into surrounding areas. In some areas they create severe lung conditions in other communities cases can result in death.

12+ hour shifts only to be given £25 at the end of the month

Change is coming

It’s a shocking subject, and we’re aware that there are even more reasons for how fast fashion impacts on people, but we like to stay positive at Greenredeem which means we focus on the future.As awareness about fast-fashion spreads, we as consumers have shifted our sources. We’ve been shopping in charity shops, renting clothes and upcycling our old items. It’s had an extraordinary impact, and now many fashion brands are changing to a more sustainable and people-friendly way of working.

view of a charity shop

Lucy and Yak have some great information on their website about the work they do at the factories in India. Not only do they get to know each of their tailors, but they also ensure they have suitable working conditions and are paid a fair wage.

The best news is that they’re not the only brand doing this. Keep an eye out later this month for an informative list of brands that are a great sustainable and ethical fashion option.

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