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What Fast Fashion Is Doing To The Environment - And What You Can Do About It

Fast fashion is a term that has been floating around recently to describe the trend of clothing producers quickly manufacturing the latest trends at a low price so shoppers can always be “in fashion.” Sounds great, right? Affordable fashion whenever I want it - what could go wrong? The answer to that question is: a lot can go wrong. And a lot has gone wrong.

We understand it can be tempting to purchase cheap clothing. Sometimes it is all we can afford, and if we can stay on-trend for an affordable price, who wouldn’t want to do that? The problem is that fashion changes so quickly. What is “in” this month might be “out” the next. Think about jeans, for example. Remember a few years ago when suddenly skinny jeans became the only type of jeans that was deemed worthy of gracing our bodies? Then a year later, the “boyfriend jean” was all the rage. Last year, it was all about the flared, cropped jean. Fashion manufacturers stay ahead of these trends and produce large quantities that can be sold cheaply while still turning a profit year after year.

Uwezo is aiming to go against the fast fashion movement by providing sustainably sourced, responsibly-made shoes that are designed to last for years and years. These hair-on cowhide shoes might not put an end to fast fashion by themselves, but they can encourage people to invest in well-made unique shoes that can be worn over and over and over again, without ever going out of style.

Make Fast, Sell Fast, Trash Fast

Why do people get rid of clothing? Most often, it is not because their clothes are old and worn out. It is because they go on a shopping spree and need to make space in their closets. And what happens when they do find that favorite pair of jeans they were every day? They’ll most likely have holes in a matter of months because they are designed to make you want to buy more. Some popular clothing stores produce new designs every couple of weeks that will be shipped off to stores all around the world.

Some fashion lines have clothing recycle programs that encourage customers to bring their used clothes for collection in exchange for store discounts. While this does allow the companies to properly recycle the clothing to be made into things like home insulation, carpet padding, and even new clothing, it also encourages shoppers to buy more cheap clothing from their brand.

Bad For Workers, Bad For The Earth

When we think of poor working conditions, we often think of a time 100 years ago before laws protected workers. Unfortunately, even if you don’t see a child working in sweltering heat in an overcrowded factory in New York, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening elsewhere. Sweatshops are very much still a problem in countries such as Cambodia, India, and Bangladesh, where major fast fashion brands produce much of their clothing. These sweatshops are overcrowded with workers laboring in unsafe conditions for extremely low wages. Many of these workers are women and children as young as ten or eleven. The lack of regulation endangers the lives of workers every day.

As if the poor working conditions were not bad enough, the fast fashion industries also pummel a huge dent in the health of the environment. According to reports, 12.8 million tons of clothing are thrown away every year in the US alone (that’s about 80 pounds per person). These are the clothes that end up in landfills, not thrift stores, as most of the clothes you donate are deemed unfit for resale and end up in the trash.

Because clothing today is often made out of synthetic materials, it can not fully degrade and will clog up landfills for hundreds of years to come. But that isn’t the only issue. Every stage of textile production causes environmental issues. Harmful pesticides are sprayed on cotton crops, clothing is dyed with harsh chemicals that makes its way into our water, and the heavy machinery used at textile factories produces greenhouse gases that pollute the air we breathe.

Shop Style With Substance

At Uwezo, our motto has always been “style with substance.” Every pair of Uwezo hair-on cowhide shoes you buy helps to provide scholarships to children in Uganda (you can read more about that here). But that’s not the only substance that comes with a pair of our cowhide boots and shoes. Whether you are buying our men's or women’s desert boots, oxfords, mules, or men’s slip-ons, you can trust that you are receiving a quality product that is made responsibly and will last for years. Find style with substance today.