Biodiversity and Fast Fashion’s “Positive” Feedback Loop

First, to define biodiversity, it’s the variability of life on Earth. The different kinds of life you will find in an area is classified as biodiversity. To go back to the importance of the food web, each element in an ecosystem plays a huge role, and for one to be forcibly changed will alter the whole system. 

There are different ways ecosystems react to changes- and changes can vary from a resource decrease because of human interference or the introduction of invasive species. As of right now, there are prevalent examples on both of these subjects; the climate crisis and carbon emissions are a result of human activity and Spotted Lanternflies are the current invasive species taking New Jersey by storm. 

However, the balance of nature is a theory that proposes that ecological systems are usually in a stable equilibrium or homeostasis. This means, with change- an environment will always take measures to keep balance and any negative change will be stabilized. So essentially, based on how magnified the change is- it can have negative or positive feedback. 

For most manmade changes, the impact is bad enough that nature can’t counter the impacts. This leads to events that can create a positive feedback loop- which means that changes occur and lead to more changes. For example, global warming causes ice to melt- which makes water levels rise and increases the area for the sun to reflect off of and create more heat- once again starting the cycle. 

So what’s the positive (not so positive) impact loop in the fashion industry? In one general statement, the whole cycle of fast fashion can place you in a never ending loop. It starts with manipulation from the companies themselves. 20 years ago, there were 4 fashion seasons. Every quarter, brands would release new styles promoting the change of season. Now, there are 52 seasons with different styles released every week, in unforgettable patterns. By promoting clothes that can’t be reworn because of bright colors and trendy designs, consumers are forced to constantly purchase more and more. The media and fashion corporations have put pressure on individuals, making them think rewearing clothes is not a good look. In addition to buying fad styles to keep up with the ever-changing seasons, these companies make bad quality, cheap clothes that crumble after 3 washes. This forces consumers to go out and buy more clothes- because the last ones couldn’t sustain enough wears. 

This crisis moves from a consumer issue to an environmental one, explained by BioMedCenter on the topic of environmental health in The global environmental injustice of fast fashion.

Environmental justice is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies” [5]. In the United States, this concept has primarily been used in the scientific literature and in practice to describe the disproportionate placement of superfund sites (hazardous waste sites) in or near communities of color. However, environmental justice, as it has been defined, is not limited to the United States and need not be constrained by geopolitical boundaries. The textile and garment industries, for example, shift the environmental and occupational burdens associated with mass production and disposal from high income countries to the under-resourced (e.g. low income, low-wage workers, women) communities in LMICs. Extending the environmental justice framework to encompass the disproportionate impact experienced by those who produce and dispose of our clothing is essential to understanding the magnitude of global injustice perpetuated through the consumption of cheap clothing. In the context of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 which calls for sustainable consumption and production as part of national and sectoral plans, sustainable business practices, consumer behavior, and the reduction and elimination of fast fashion should all be a target of global environmental justice advocates.

So, in the realm of fast fashion, every move impacts another and places us back in a never ending circle. The only way to remove yourself from that lifestyle is to make an effort to push out. 

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