Ethics in Fashion Industry (Essay)

The fashion industry is one of the most important industries in the modern world with many people of all ages embracing various fashion trends, especially in the line of clothing. All people across the world use various clothes manufactured both at the domestic level as well as at the global level (Dallas). Globalization has made fashion more common among various communities in the world with people from different countries, regions and even continents sharing a similar sense of fashion based on what is trending, age groups and gender (Parkins 12).

The fashion industry that has in the recent times undergone tremendous growth has made business thrive in the whole world and brought into light some of the most renown names of fashion companies such as Zara, H&M and Forever21, which are some of the most well-known global entities in the discussed field. These major players in the industry have been credited mainly for what experts in the field of fashion have often referred to as fast fashion. From the name itself, fast fashion refers to the rapidly produced clothing that many people often deem cheap and trendy (“Fast Fashion”). These fashion types have created a situation where most of the people who consume products from the fashion industry want to get what most people consider as more modern, more acceptable and easily available to the consumers on demand (Lambert 15). This is to say, one can order a particular design of clothing and within a few days, he or she can have it made for him or her.

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The increased demand within the fashion industry has exposed many people to the trend that more energy is put on what the customer needs and less emphasis is placed on the actual repercussion of some of these demands (Rosenblum). The materials that are used in creating some of the most demanded clothes in this fast fashion industry have serious impacts on the lives of human beings and the environment both directly and indirectly. People demand the clothes that look beautiful, of colors of their choices and specific designs without really caring about what could be the process of making these clothes of all the demanded designs (Bhardwaj and Fairhust 171). Many of the designers who are more concerned with impressing and satisfying the needs of these customers also end up producing these clothes without much consideration of the implications of their actions, which is a major ethical concern within the fashion industry.

The most commonly used raw material to make clothes is cotton. Cotton as it is one of the plants growing which has some of the most serious consequences to the environment. The first implication is based on the fact that the cotton plant consumes too much water; the second concern is that growing this plant demands a lot of chemicals that have serious repercussions on soil, water bodies as well as surrounding plants with the most commonly used chemicals being insecticides and pesticides (Sweeny). The consumption of huge amount of water has created a situation where the water bodies in various areas where the cotton plant has been grown have lost huge amount of water. Such areas face the risk of the rivers running dry and as such the risk of these places becoming arid areas. On the same note, the use of chemicals has increased the salinity of water bodies in surrounding areas and which has made them inhabitable to some of aquatic species, while, at the same time, affecting human consumption of water from such sources.



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It is important to consider that one may not associate the impact of cotton plantations directly to the fashion industry; however, the question that one must ask is what pushes the demand for cotton high? It is the fashion industry. Most of the cotton farmers grow the plant in large scale to attract customers and to make big profits from the fashion industry, which makes it extremely hard for these people to care about the effects of planting cotton on the environment and on the lives of human beings (Cheeseman). In this instance, it is, therefore, important for all the stakeholders within the fashion industry to ensure that they make serious assessment of the impacts that the industry has on the ecosystem through increased demand for the cotton which makes many farmers plant more cotton to satisfy this demand.

The fashion industry has been more geared towards making profits without much consideration of the long-term impacts of the happenings in the industry. It is important to note that one of the aspects of the fashion industry is the disposable fashion that has been seen to be taking root in the recent times (Idakavage). It involves the use and disposing of clothes under fast fashion, making the producers of these clothes put more efforts in the manufacturing and also putting pressure on the demand for raw materials which apparently has impact on the ecosystem (Sweeny). The challenges in fashion industry have in this sense been aggravated by the growth of fast fashion which has increased levels of pollution and created a serious ethical dilemma for many people both within and outside the fashion industry.

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The fashion industry should not only be concerned with cotton plant; the process of making clothes involves a number of challenging issues. Before a person is able to wear particular attire, there are several processes most of which have serious implications for the environment Making clothes involves the use of chemicals including the use of dye which can have serious implications both in the short term as well as in the long term on the individuals making the clothes as well as on the environment. Dying of clothes is done with fresh water, which is later released back into the water bodies which can also be the sources of drinking water. It is important to note that it is easy for such water to affect people from across the globe, as it can easily go to rivers, lakes, or oceans from where people get water for their daily uses (Sweeny). The wildlife is also put in immense danger with such acts and many species are exposed to death due to the acts that people commit in the name of fashion. It is important to note that new technology on the use of dye has been developed in the recent years, but it has not been embraced for use in many of the affected places.

Cotton is not the only material associated with the fashion industry which has negative implications on the environment and human life as a whole. Another key resource that has a much bigger impact is the polyester which is a major synthetic fiber used in the fashion industry. Polyester is a major producer of Carbon dioxide which is one of the greenhouse gases that is responsible for many environmental challenges including global warming. The growth of the fast fashion industry has seen many companies involved in fast fashion using this material to make more clothes that many people tend to use and dispose of. It is estimated that about 60 percent of the clothes that are manufactured today in fast fashion are made of polyester which is a huge threat to the environment (Sweeny). This material is not biodegradable, and thus poses a huge threat to the environment, as it causes environmental degradation. Additionally, the production of polyester involves the use of fossil fuels which also contribute to global warming.

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The impacts that fashion industry has do not only start and end on the raw materials. One of the other factors through which the fashion causes serious damages to the environment is through the process of distribution. Clothes that people wear in different parts of the world are some of the widely travelled items or materials globally. This means that the process of transportation of clothes designed and manufactured or transportation of raw materials for making such clothes involves a lot of activities that in one way or another affect the environment immensely. Shipping of the clothes or the materials and the use of other modes of transport contributes significantly through the emission of fossil fuels into the environment and to the atmosphere which has a huge impact on the lives of people and other organisms within the atmosphere.

Way Forward in Dealing with Ethical Concerns in Fashion Industry

Fashion is important for the progress of the humanity; it is, therefore, not justified to say that fashion is a bad thing. The world has changed tremendously over the years and people have adopted new ways of doing things. Today, one of the things that people identify with the fashion industry is fast fashion. It is widely accepted and embraced by many individuals, and can be considered as one of the greatest achievements of the modern human society (Cheeseman). People look extremely beautiful in clothes designed or made through fast fashion. Fast fashion can, therefore, be handled in different ways that would make it more acceptable and more environmental friendly so as to dispel all the negativities that have been raised.

Greenpeace is one of the global organizations that have over the years been concerned with the ever-increasing destruction of the natural ecosystem by the fashion industry. In the recent years, it has launched a project called “Detox My Fashion”, through which it has been working with various big names in the fashion industry such as H&M and Indetex including other 78 firms working towards reducing the discharge of harmful chemicals from the production of textiles into the environment. A zero tolerance to this issue is planned to be achieved by the year 2020 (Cheeseman). This noble initiative by Greenpeace and its partners is a sign that not everything is lost and an indication that people can still dress nicely and, at the same time, take care of the environment. The important thing is that other players in the fashion industry are also joining the initiative and work together to ensure that the environment remains protected for the sake of all people involved.

The use of dye has been a major threat emerging from the fashion industry that has caused a lot of pollution, especially to water bodies. However, with the development of new technologies on how to dye clothes, it is important to note that the problem that has been emerging from such pollutions can be dealt with once and for all. This means that technology can take care of the pollution that has often threatened the environment while the fashion industry continues to grow.

Recycling of clothes is another important factor that needs to be seriously considered in the fashion industry. It is necessary to note that the process of making clothes with new materials has significant impacts on the environment from the raw material stage to the point of distribution. It is, therefore, important that those involved in making or designing clothes come up with measures that make the materials used from clothes re-usable so that the whole process is not repeated again, and as such the demand for raw materials can reduce and result in less pollution in the ecosystem (“Sustainable Fashion”). The process of recycling is good for sustainability of the environment and fashion in general, as materials will always be readily available to designers, and as such they will be able to use these resources without necessarily putting many efforts into shipping and transporting them, which will contribute to the decrease in environmental pollution.

In conclusion, the fashion industry is key for the progress of the human society. People must continue living their lives based on the kind of fashion they want to identify with. It is, however, important to note that the sustainability of the environment and the world as a whole is largely dependent on what people do today. This means that activities that affect the environment do not make the world better, but rather make it worse for the future generations. It is thus important that those in the fashion industry take note of all the negative implications of the fashion sector to the environment and life in the ecosystem as a whole and work towards solutions that can be long lasting and those that can make the world a better place for both the current and future generations.

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