There is a longstanding debate on whether society should place an environmental value on clothing or succumb to the concept of fast fashion. In this conversational lesson plan, we look at a disposable culture and discuss its impact on an already fragile environment.
This class is available as a one-off class or as part of our conversation course. You should note that this class is based at an intermediate level.
Written and produced exclusively for One2one Academy. ©
Course – The Conversation Course
Level – Intermediate
Several ethical issues in the fashion industry have gained attention in recent years. Some of these issues include:
Many brands outsource their production to factories in developing countries where workers are often subjected to poor working conditions, low wages, and long hours. The Sweatshop scenario is a significant concern in the industry, as workers may face exploitation and a lack of basic rights.
Price can play a part in a customer’s decision-making regarding purchasing power. These so-called sweatshops impact the profit margins and, thus, the recommended retail price of apparel.
A child workforce
The use of children in the fashion industry is a significant ethical issue. Children are often employed in hazardous conditions, deprived of education, and paid low or no wages.
In many cases, a consequence of a child workforce is an economic benefit to families who would otherwise face starvation. It also provides a debatable path towards education, breaking the poverty cycle.
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries globally. The production processes, including toxic chemicals, excessive water consumption, and the disposal of textile waste, contribute to environmental degradation and climate change.
There are notable consequences of disposable fashion which are directly linked to global warming. On some level, developing countries striving to gain economic leverage may have overlooked the impact.
Fast fashion and overconsumption
The concept promotes a culture of overconsumption, encouraging consumers to buy and discard clothing constantly. This leads to excessive waste, as garments are often discarded after only a few wears, contributing to landfill pollution and resource depletion.
Disposable fashion, as it’s otherwise referred to, can also reflect on the longevity of a garment, subsequently adding to this problem. Poor quality controls, fabrics and aftercare exasperate the issue, which often prompts the need to replace and dispose of.
Animal welfare and fashion
Using animal-derived materials, such as fur, leather, and exotic skins, raises concerns about animal welfare. Some practices, such as fur farming and the use of exotic animal skins, involve cruelty and unsustainable practices.
Animals, often regarded as a manufacturing resource, have sparked many ethical debates and demonstrations. These aim to create awareness but usually could be more effective.
Lack of transparency
Many brands need more transparency in their supply chains, making it difficult for consumers to know the origin of their clothes and the working conditions under which they were produced. This lack of transparency hinders accountability and makes it challenging to address ethical concerns.
Educating consumers about fast fashion could harm wholesalers and retailers, whose focus is solely on profitability rather than sustainability. Some believe that there is a cause to promote awareness in educational institutions. In contrast, others think it should be the responsibility of parents and the media.
Fashion conversation questions
1. How aware are you of the ethical issues in the fashion industry?
2. Do you think consumers have a responsibility to support ethical fashion brands? Why or why not?
3. What steps do you think fashion brands should take to ensure ethical production practices?
4. How can consumers make more informed choices when it comes to purchasing clothes?
5. Do you think government regulations are necessary to enforce ethical standards in the fashion industry? Why or why not?
6. What role do you think social media plays in raising awareness about ethical issues in fashion?
7. How can fashion brands improve transparency and provide more information about their supply chains?
8. Should consumers prioritise buying sustainable and ethically produced clothing over affordability and trends? Why or why not?
9. How can the industry reduce its environmental impact and promote more sustainable practices?
10. Do you feel strongly about any specific ethical issues. Why?
11. What are some common misconceptions about ethical fashion that you have encountered?
12. Have you made any changes to your shopping habits to support ethical fashion? If so, what motivated you to do so?
13. How do you think the demand for fast fashion affects the ethical practices of fashion brands?
14. Are there any specific fashion brands you consider leaders in sustainable and ethical practices? Why?
15. How can consumers hold brands accountable for their ethical practices?
16. What are some potential consequences of not addressing ethical issues in the fashion industry?
17. Do you think the industry as a whole is moving towards more ethical practices? Why or why not?
18. How can brands ensure fair wages and safe working conditions for their garment workers?
19. what impact does it have on local communities and artisans worldwide?
20. How can individuals promote and support the concept of ethical fashion within their communities?