In the United States, it’s sometimes said that living as an ethical consumer is an impossibility. After all, there’s little question about the exploitative business practices that have become engrained throughout the country’s industries. This is especially true in the clothing, food, and cosmetics industries. From relying on underpaid workforces of third-world countries to allowing the general torment of animals, there are plenty of injustices to talk about.
In the past few decades, a wave of ethically-sourced options have gradually appeared across grocery stores and beauty vendors. Unfortunately, one area that has yet to see such improvements is the fashion industry. Though U.S. consumers often don’t experience the negative impact of the fashion industry’s condemnable practices, they exist nonetheless. This has allowed it to get away with far less criticism than its peers.
However, with the sudden success of ethical fashion startups, it seems consumers are no longer turning a blind eye.
A History of Negligence in the Fashion Industry
The wrongdoings the fashion industry commits on a daily basis are, frankly, overwhelming.
Over a billion animals are subjected to horrific living conditions before being slaughtered for clothing purposes alone. From the inhumane skinning of live cows for leather to the unnecessary physical abuse of geese and sheep for their feathers and wool, the fashion industry has tortured animals to death in countless ways.
The abuse doesn’t stop here, though. Countless international sweatshop workers make less than a dollar an hour for multi-billion-dollar fashion corporations. Their workshops are also rife with debilitating conditions. Eleven-hour workdays with no restroom access and temperatures that consistently cause mass fainting are just a few of the problems. Meanwhile, workers who become sick or pregnant are often fired. Those who protest the conditions are left in danger of being killed.
Of course, environmental abuse is also an issue. The fashion industry happily perpetuates a massive negative impact on the environment. Textile operations for clothing account for a whopping 10 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Even worse, that percentage is expected to increase to 25 percent by 2050.
Ethical Fashion Companies are Pushing for a Change
It has taken a while, but fashion companies of all sizes are starting to alter how they produce clothing.
For instance, vegan clothing brands have grown in popularity across young consumers. Companies like Unreal Fur, Unicorn Goods, Beyond Skin, and others are effectively changing the way fashion products are sourced. Aside from vegan brands, clothing recycling efforts are on the rise. This is welcome news considering the industry’s rampant waste.
Signs like these are sprouting up all across the United States. While some companies aren’t moving to meet this new ethical standard, it’s evident that the industry as a whole is beginning to distance itself from the horrors that have remained commonplace for far too long.
Thanks to the continued outcry and conscious purchasing of new generations of consumers, unethical fashion is becoming an unsustainable business model.
Best of all, market indicators show that this is the direction fashion will continue to move in. Headstrong companies that refuse to adapt to evolving consumer ethics will find themselves forced to follow suit or risk falling behind.