Change Fashion Trends, Improve Human Rights

For far too long, the fashion industry has relied on unethical and unsustainable labor practices in order to sell cheap clothing. The recent bankruptcy of fast fashion giant Forever 21, however, might signal needed change is in the air. It is time to usher in human rights, eco-friendly fashion.

Sustainable fashion is on the rise for all sorts of good reasons. Traditional fashion has been killing people and the planet for much too long, and change is long overdue. Keep reading to learn more about the rise of sustainable fashion and why eco-friendly clothing matters.

Social Impact of Unethical Manufacturing

In the past, the clothing Americans wore was largely manufactured right here in the United States. That all changed, though, when corporations began moving their manufacturing facilities overseas in order to take advantage of cheap labor and materials. Today, much of the clothing that Americans wear comes from places like China, Cambodia and Bangladesh where laborers earn as little as 50 cents per hour.

The conditions in many of these factories are horrendous. Mass fainting is common due to oppressively hot temperatures, and people are frequently fired for "offenses" like getting sick or becoming pregnant. In one of the worst incidents in recent history, a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh. This 2013 disaster resulted in the death of 1,132 people. Roughly, 2,000 others were injured.

In these factories, human lives are not valued. Companies that have embraced sustainable fashion, however, are working to improve conditions and ensure basic human rights for all of their employees.

Labor abuses are not limited overseas. The New York Times in December 2019 detailed abuses by Fashion Nova, the flashy online retailer. Known for innovative marketing tactics that created celebrity "Nova Ambassadors" like Cardi B to flood Instagram, the company is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for underpaying workers, owing millions of dollars in back wages.

"Los Angeles is filled with factories that pay workers off the books and as little as possible, battling overseas competitors that can pay even less. Many of the people behind the sewing machines are undocumented, and unlikely to challenge their bosses," the Times reported.

Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion

The fast fashion industry takes a terrible toll on the environment, too. Each year, this industry generates 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases. That is more than the amount that comes from international flights and marine shipping vessels combined. The industry also consumes a whopping 98 million tons of oil every single year. The process of dyeing textiles is one of the largest causes of clean water pollution.

To make matters even worse, despite all of the resources that go into manufacturing clothing, many of the garments end up in landfills. Because they are cheap, they are rapidly discarded.

Eco-friendly clothing strives to eliminate environmental, labor, and human rights problems. It is manufactured in an ethical manner in which workers' rights are respected and the environment is protected. Eco-friendly companies, like Bella + Canvas wholesale clothing, use organic cotton instead.

Traditionally, the cotton used by the textile industry is treated with pesticides. Since those pesticides are toxic, they are not good for the planet. Eco-friendly companies use organic cotton. Instead of just mass-producing clothing as quickly as possible, they take the time to create garments that will last. It does tend to be more expensive, but it lasts longer so you will not need to buy new clothes as frequently. This saves money and reduces your own carbon footprint.

More brands have jumped on board the ethical and eco-friendly clothing bandwagon. If you are looking for fashion basics, brands like Bella + Canvas, econscious, Fruit of the Loom, Alternative Apparel and Gildan are great options. Patagonia and Columbia are great for outerwear, and Athleta makes sustainable athleisure and active wear. If you are looking for something a bit more luxurious, check out Eileen Fisher.

Let us make sustainable fashion more than just another trend.