The Secrets of Fast Fashion, Revealed

In an effort to make the public aware of the effects of clothing consumption on the environment, a team from machinery resale company Trade Machines compiled research on the topic into a neat, easy-to-absorb infographic.

Demi Barclay, employee at Trade Machines, works in the marketing and search engine optimization department of the machinery resale company, and participated in the creation of this infographic.

Barclay described that it’s common for the company to do projects like this each quarter on topics that the team involved with has full autonomy to choose. Barclay and her team spent two months compiling research to bring forth a simple way to educate the public on clothing consumption.

The infographic, titled “Dirty Laundry: airing the secrets of fast fashion,” highlights a multitude of issues within the clothing industry with two main themes: environmental and social impacts. This infographic includes information on the rate of consumption of clothing, increase in demand for fabrics with negative environmental impacts, exploitation of clothing industry workers, what actually happens to discarded clothing, and much more.

One such environmental impact is the increase in demand for polyester over cotton, a petroleum based substance that releases greenhouse gases in its production. Another impact comes from the frequency of laundry done in America, which releases microfibers into the ocean and uses a large amount of energy to heat water for washing. As for where clothing ends up, many developing countries are feeling the impact of importing clothing and attempting to support their own industries, causing more clothing to end up in landfills or being incinerated.

“People need to be educated, because they don’t know what's going on,” Barclay said. “Sending out this infographic in an easy to digest, easy-to-understand way is important, because it starts self education, and hopefully leads to a change in action, which is ideally going to protect our environment and protect human rights.”

However, it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to clothing consumption. “Dirty Laundry” aims not only to highlight the issues present with the clothing industry, but also offers solutions available to make a difference. The end of the infographic outlines many options for creating change, including buying less clothing and buying from sustainable brands, washing clothes less often, shopping second hand, and repairing your own clothing.

“Educating in terms of the problem is really important, because you need to understand why there’s an issue in the first place,” Barclay said, “but I think that we also need to be solution orientated.”

This may be difficult for some to come to terms with. For fashion lovers and retail therapy shoppers, or those involved with or employed in the fashion industry, this information may be something initially rejected.  

“I understand there is a certain first reaction or first impulse to reject this,” Barclay said, “and I think it’s because it is a lot of information to take in at once.” Becoming aware of the issues with the clothing industry and taking action on it could be a huge lifestyle change for some.

“For the business person, there’s a lot of arguments for corporate sustainability, and a lot of arguments for innovation in design,” Barclay said. “Fashion can still be a business or be something people really enjoy, but the industry or consumer can still be self-aware about the impact without having to totally give up something they love and create their social identity with.”

Overall, Barclay states that it’s vital for readers and writers to  both be educated on such issues but not bogged down by them, and to continue to promote and encourage positive action.