Fast Food, Fast Fashion and Fossil Fuels
Consumerism is not only bad for your wallet; it’s bad for the environment too. The unflattering term, fast food, which has been used to describe multinationals such as McDonald’s, KFC and Taco Bell for decades has made a home in the fashion industry.
Although the negative connotations associated with ‘fast food’ are largely due to the unhealthy nature of the food itself, the lesser known evil of the fast food industry is its destruction of the environment. McDonald’s is not serving organic bread, Taco Bell doesn’t source its jalapeno peppers from a farm within 100 kilometers of its stores and there is nothing ethical about the chicken from KFC. But it’s cheap! Is it? Home-cooked meals that are more nutritious can also be made at a lower cost than eating fast food everyday. The long term costs of this unhealthy lifestyle is higher medical bills (we may have free healthcare in Canada but prescriptions are costly) and environmental impacts that we will all be paying for eventually.
Fast fashion refers to the phenomenon where new and cheap products dominate the fashion industry. Low-quality fabric manufactured by water intensive methods and stitched together by underpaid hands keeps costs low and profits soaring.
Raw materials are grown in one country, shipped to another country for manufacturing, then shipped by rail, by cargo containers across oceans and, eventually, by trucks to stores all over the world. Twenty-two billion new clothing items are bought by Americans each year.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of energy but our economies rely on them to fuel our industries. Consumption drives the need for fossil fuels. The relationship between fossil fuels, fast food and fast fashion works as a feedback mechanism.
The more we consume, the more we signal to the marketplace that we need these products at all costs – which means, at all costs to the living and breathing species that are poisoned by the extraction, transportation and burning of fossil fuels.
We can signal to the marketplace that we want a change. Many small choices do have a big impact.
How can you improve your spending habits? Have you ever bought clothing from a local designer? Have you made environmentally friendly choices recently?