Unexpected costs of fast fashion

On average, Americans throw away 81 pounds of clothing each year. This is according to SMART, or the Association of Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles. They also say that 95% of the textiles we wear can be recycled, but currently only 15% is donated or recycled, and the rest goes to landfill.

If you’re on TikTok or Instagram – you may have heard warnings from content creators about ‘fast fashion’. Then the trendy – but typically poorly made clothes – are quickly produced in huge quantities. It is brought to retail while the demand for this trend is greatest and it is sold at a very cheap price. As trends move fast, fast fashion is contributing to the waste of clothes, but also to many other problems.

New York clothing designer Kathleen Tesnakis has set out for her mission to change the world with sustainable fashion.

“It’s buying used clothes, it’s learning how to fix your clothes. It also invests in quality products. It is an investment in domestically produced products. “When you can support people who do things in a positive way for the planet,” Tesnakis said.

In 1996, working as a textile designer, Kathleen found her passion in a pile of old woolen sweaters. Her clothing brand and design studio “Ekologic” arose out of a desire to prove that recycled clothing can be more beautiful in their second life and encourage change.

Ekologic uses recycled cashmere sweaters, procured in New York State. Kathleen says her job is almost waste-free, using almost every inch of a used item.

Ekologic’s process also does not require the use of dyes or chemicals – something that cannot be said for the textile industry as a whole.

According to CDP.net – a non-profit organization that provides companies with a platform to detect and manage their impact on the environment – the clothing and textile sector greatly contributes to excessive consumption and water pollution around the world. This is especially a problem in third world countries.

According to the organization ‘Good clothes, fair salary’ – the fast fashion industry exploits workers by paying low salaries. Information on FashionRevolution.org shows that in places like India – where much of the fast fashion is produced, and workers in the clothing industry are primarily women – they are also subject to poor working conditions.

“Slow fashion is fashion that is transparent, which means you can know who is making it, know how it is made, what the materials are … These garments are meant to last longer,” Tesnakis said.

Tesnakis knows that it can be difficult to switch to a way of thinking about reuse / recycling when it comes to clothing, but small actions can really pay off.

“A lot of that is re-learning behavior. It doesn’t have to be done with anxiety. It can be fun and empowering, “Tesnakis said.

And Tesnakis will be the first to tell you – Ekologic’s clothes are not cheap – but he says that they will last for ten to 20 years, they are unique and support the local economy. She adds that there are levels of sustainable fashion. You can still go to TJ Maxx, Target or Walmart – but you need to look at the labels on the clothes to see if it’s ‘Better Cotton’ or ‘Oeko Tex’ which confirms that the products do not contain harmful chemicals.

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