Fast Fashion: Why It’s Killing Our Planet & Wallets
And what YOU can do about it
September 28, 2021
Have you ever considered that the H&M jeans you’re wearing took about 10,000 liters of water to make? Or that the garment maker who made your shirt is overworked and underpaid? Did you know a plain tee shirt takes about 715 gallons of water, a three year supply of drinking water!
Fashion; whether your outfit is meticulously planned or you just threw on whatever’s comfortable, there’s no denying fashion always has been an outlet to showcase one’s unique style. While it’s understandable to want your outfit to always be on point, have you ever thought about what it takes to manufacture your clothing? As insignificant it might seem to add a piece of clothing to your cart, on the large scale of fast fashion, the effects are way more consequential than they appear.
The emergence of fast fashion has provided an affordable method for many to dress to their heart’s desire and follow the latest trends. However, when it comes to corporations, looks are often deceiving.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion has been on the rise in recent years more than ever. What is fast fashion? Fast fashion is described as the mass production of cheap, trendy clothing. Popular examples of fast fashion include Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters, and Shein. After seeing the affordable price tag, many might not think twice about purchasing from these brands, however, it’s important to research the products you consume. Elements in the fast fashion industry are largely problematic and unsustainable for both your wallet and the environment, and it’s about time awareness is brought to the issue.
The main goal of fast fashion companies is to produce and sell clothing on a massive scale. This can be a danger to the environment for many reasons including:
- Pollution- According to a 2020 Article by Princeton, carbon emissions of the fashion industry outweigh that of international flights and maritime shipping together. https://psci.princeton.edu/tips/2020/7/20/the-impact-of-fast-fashion-on-the-environment
- Excessive water usage
In addition, questionable business practices such as poor working conditions, underpaid workers, and child labor are no stranger to these brands. In the past, brands like Forever 21 and Shein have been accused of operating like “sweatshops”. It’s important to be aware of these practices and to genuinely question if these garments are worth supporting.
The Trend Cycle & Its Consequences
If it’s known that fast fashion is harmful to the environment, why do people continue to buy it?
- Prices- Corporations like Shein sell clothing and accessories for extremely cheap prices, which encourages many to settle for their more affordable option.
- Quality- While these brands sell clothing for low prices the cost to make them is even lower. By settling for fast fashion prices, the customer is also settling for lower quality clothing.
- The Trend Cycle- According to a 2019 article by the Wall Street Journal, “on average each piece of clothing will be worn seven times before getting tossed…” https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-high-price-of-fast-fashion-11567096637 and that number is only getting smaller as time progresses. The clothing sold by these brands are designed to follow trends, so that the consumer is forced to discard and replace the out of style clothes.
The trend cycle is accelerating more and more everyday and not only is social media to blame, but fast fashion is too. The prices and quality of these garments are intentional in order to convince shoppers to buy more of their products. The aftermath: landfills filled with last season’s trendiest fast fashion purchases.
You are not a bad person if you’ve purchased from fast fashion brands before, but it’s never too late to make an effort to shop sustainably. Instead:
- Less Clothes, Higher Quality- Instead of buying an abundance of poor quality clothes, try investing in higher quality pieces. This way you’re spending on clothes you actually like, that’ll last longer
- Shop Second Hand- As long as you’re mindful of what and how much you’re buying at thrift shops, there’s a chance you’ll find gems for affordable prices! If online shopping is more your style, Ebay, Poshmark, and Depop are good websites to browse.
- Donate to Thrift Stores- By donating clothes you don’t wear anymore there is a larger chance it won’t end up in a landfill and with a person who’ll appreciate the garment.
Right now it seems like the fast fashion industry has heavy grip on our society, but by doing our part to make more sustainable wardrobe purchases, we can work towards reversing the damages of one of our planet’s biggest polluters, and saving money in the process.