Fast fashion has changed the way we fundamentally view clothes. The value of our clothes are cheapened. The low prices have rendered them disposable in our minds, shortening their already accelerated lifespan even more. As a result, we do not take care of our clothes well. Studies have also shown that people now only wear their clothes a handful of times before discarding them. On average, women wear their clothes only 7 times, and about a third of women consider clothes worn over 3 times “old”. This problem is worsened by the advent of social media, as many people refuse to be caught dead wearing the same outfit twice. Subsequently, they would dispose of perfectly functional clothes.

Alicia Silverstone starring as Cher in the movie Clueless. In this scene, she bemoans a lack of clothes to wear. Source.

The way we care for our clothes also has the potential to harm the environment. Cheap synthetic fabrics placed in washing machines have microfibers that wash off and are directed into oceans, introducing toxins into our environment when they are consumed by microorganisms in the sea.

The frequency we wash our clothes also matter. Washing machines require energy, using electricity from coal or fossil fuels. When we wash our clothes with warm water, a bulk of the electricity (90%) is used to heat up the water. It is estimated that an average of 400 washing machine loads per year would consume about 75,000 litres of water. In other countries where clothes dryers are popular, machine-drying is regarded to be the most energy-intensive process. This is a double whammy as tumble-drying clothes not only consumes large amounts of energy, the process also causes our clothes to become misshapen and deemed unwearable. As such, the more we wash and tumble dry our clothes, the more we need to buy new clothes to replace the old ones.