Expert in the consequences of “fast fashion”

Expert in the consequences of “fast fashion”

Fast Fashion: Fast-moving trends and masses of clothing. Excessive consumption of clothing is a problem that is becoming more and more relevant, you can read more about what fast fashion is in the article “Fast fashion: 3 reasons why you should rethink its consumption”.

with Dr. We talked to Dina Barbian of the Nuremberg Sustainability Institute about the problem of “fast fashion.” In addition, the expert gives important tips for the sustainable consumption of clothing and explains what you can pay attention to as a consumer.

Intergenerational Justice – Sustainability in the Brundtland Report

at Mrs. Barbian, how would you define sustainability?
dr Dinah Barbian: “There is one definition in the scientific sense that has been cited most often to date and that is the Brundtland Report definition. This is named after Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Norwegian prime minister, who was chair of the World Commission on the Environment. Environment and Development The Commission issued a report in 1987 entitled “Our common future” and in it, for the first time, sustainable development was defined and almost all scientists refer to this definition.

There, sustainability means that we can meet our needs today, but in such a way that future generations can also meet their own needs in the same way. It is about intergenerational justice. We are allowed to use the earth’s resources, but in such a way that future generations also have the same possibilities of access”.

Our interview aims to provide insight into the “fast fashion” phenomenon. What is that exactly?
“Fast fashion has only really established itself as a concept in the last ten years. Fast fashion means that we can consume clothes because of dumping prices in the clothing sector and throw them away again because they are cheap. And without a second thought times how bad it is. the damage to the environment is”.

Despite the catastrophe in Bangladesh: “I have the feeling that not much has changed.”

The fast fashion industry thrives on the manufacture of a lot of poor quality clothing. What does that mean for the workers who produce these clothes?
“The world was shaken awake when the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed in April 2013, killing over a thousand people. It showed that here in the richest regions of the world we are responsible for the fact that such catastrophic conditions prevail in other places: there There is no job security or building protection there It’s just worth it for local businesses, they don’t have to comply with any regulations It’s also difficult for us as consumers to control these regulations and many probably don’t care either because Here we want cheap clothes.

You can see it like this: the individual entrepreneur wants to make a profit by offering cheap products. But on the other hand, you also have to see it in a global style, that is, through global supply chains. Our global supply chains are more efficient than ever, which means it pays to ship clothes even these long distances and things are still dirt cheap. That means catastrophic conditions must prevail at the site. First of all, because the workers receive little money, even so little that they can barely support their families, or it is enough. They also work in appalling health and safety conditions, which means 14 or more hours a day, and that’s accepted. I have the feeling that not much has changed.”

Masses of clothing create a large amount of waste. How does the fast fashion industry affect the environment?
“The fast fashion industry affects the environment in two ways. One, you have to look at it at the top of the supply chain, because all the dyes and chemicals or treatment methods on clothes are also bad for the environment. The other is, at the end of the supply chain, that is when the clothes are thrown away. And sadly, on average, a t-shirt is only worn for eleven months. We have an incredibly fast turnaround time, which unfortunately has been deteriorated in recent decades. In the past “Dress clothes were worn longer. Due to dumping prices, time has shortened and more and more garments are being produced which are also of poorer quality. More than 50 percent of all our clothing is already made of polyester, and the base material is oil.

Our clothes are made of polyester, whose basic material: Erdl

Polyester does not degrade as well in the environment. This results in ever-increasing mountains of clothing waste, meaning the downstream supply chain, which is also contaminated by the chemicals. That harms the environment. But the large amount that accumulates also affects our environment because we hardly recycle these garments. Most of the clothing that is not worn is donated, but the pieces are of such poor quality that they cannot really be reused. There have also been countries that have returned our things. The best thing, although it sounds drastic, would be to burn any clothing that ends up as waste in an incinerator to generate energy. In my opinion, that is much better than taking the clothes to other countries that don’t know what to do with the clothes. On the one hand it is a waste of resources and on the other hand the clothes there are not used either, so they are not used”.

At the moment there are many clothing donations due to the war in Ukraine, do you think this makes sense?

Sending clothing donations to regions at war is a different situation. When donating clothes to a region at war, there is nothing wrong with donating clothes that are needed locally. There, the own production of clothes has come to a standstill. When it comes to donating high-quality, well-maintained clothing specifically, that makes sense. These clothes will certainly also be needed and used. In terms of climate, Ukraine is on a par with Germany, which means that our winter clothing is also necessary and continuous.

What can you do as a consumer to counteract this? How do you know that a garment has been produced sustainably?
“There are now many good and bad labels in both the food and clothing sectors. The good labels in the clothing sector are Blue Angel, EarthPositive, Fair Wear Foundation, Fairtrade Textile Production, GEPA, Global Organic Textile Standard ( GOTS). Also PRO PLANET and iVN BEST Naturtextil are good labels. These are the labels we said in the institute at that time, they meet these criteria, they are socially fair, but also ecologically good. In addition to looking at the labels, you should also have account the clothing’s country of origin. There are manufacturers in Germany that only produce natural textiles, including mail-order stores such as hessnatur, Avocado Store, Grne Erde, Gudrun Sjden and Waschbr Versand.”

Do you have any tips for sustainable clothing use that you can pass on to readers?
“What you can also pay attention to as a consumer is that when I buy something, I have to wear it for a long time. Buy a high-quality item of clothing once, pay attention to quality, and wear this item for a long time.” weather. And if you no longer have it. If you want, then you can pass it on. What you can also do: buy second-hand more often, that is, drive this circular economy yourself, participate in it yourself.”

about the expert: dr Dina Barbian, industrial engineer, doctorate in economics of sustainability, has headed the Nuremberg Institute for Sustainability since 2012. She lectures on the topics of “Digitalization and Sustainability”, “National Sustainability Strategies” and “Sustainability Chain Management”. of supply”.

She is the author of books and specialized articles on different interdisciplinary topics such as digitization, industry 4.0, sustainability, circular economy and decarbonization.