Sustainability has become a major concern as an alternative to fast fashion. Several media reports have centered on the negative effects of fast fashion on the environment. In Ghana, for instance, most landfill disasters include tons of unwanted clothes shipped into the country for sale.
Fast fashion describes cheap, stylish, mass-produced clothes for commercial purposes. The clothes produced usually appeal to shoppers because they are affordable and trendy. However, they quickly go out of style and do not last. Once discarded, waste clothes usually end up in landfills and gutters bringing negative consequences to the environment.
Ghana has been the biggest dumping site for used clothing for more than a decade. Available data shows that the value of second-hand clothing shipped into the country tripled from $65m in 2010 to over $180m in 2020. The U K alone shipped over $70m worth of used clothing to Ghana in 2020, accounting for close to 40 percent of the country’s imports.
It is against this backdrop that some Ghanaian creatives are going zero-waste in the strife for sustainable fashion. Joyce Ababio is the founder of the Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design (JACCD). According to her, sustainable clothing is a priority for her company. “We buy some of these second-hand clothes and recycle them into other things”, she said.
Also, Clara Pinkra-Sam, creative director and founder of ‘Clatural’, a Ghanaian fashion label noted that her company is mindful of the earth whiles producing fashionable garments. “The unique signature design, the mesh, is sustainable in its production. If you’re using a fresh fabric, you end up producing literally no waste”, said Clara.
Clatural also makes use of waste materials from other fashion houses for its production.
A United Nations (UN) report indicates that the global fashion industry is responsible for about 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and uses more energy than both the international aviation and shipping industries. One way by which carbon emissions occur is during transportation from fashion factories to retail outlets. Another way is when the consumer discards the product and it is taken to a landfill or burned.
Studies have shown that approximately 63% of textiles are derived from petrochemicals. This means that a significant source of CO? is being released in the extraction and production of such nonrenewable materials for fashion purposes. Some researchers project that if things don’t change, by 2050 a quarter of the world’s carbon budget will be spent on the fashion industry.
Also, fashion products made from synthetic fabrics may contain microplastics. Although touted as eco-friendly, clothes made of recycled plastics may also pose a threat to the ecosystem. This is because tiny shreds of plastic are washed by the rain or flushed into wastewater systems and eventually enter the ocean.
Furthermore, most dyes and chemicals used to colour fabrics are highly toxic and unsustainable. This poses a risk to workers and the natural environment. Many factories in developing countries lack proper equipment and management mechanisms. For this reason, wastewater is flushed out into water bodies making it unsafe for people and animals.
Information from https://www.treehugger.com/fast-fashion-environmental-ethical-issues-4869800 and https://citinewsroom.com/2022/10/how-used-clothing-from-the-uk-is-fueling-ghanas-environmental-crisis was used in this story