If there’s one thing that many of us are hungry to consume, it’s fashion. In fact, people today consume 400 percent more clothing than two decades ago — with an average American contributing 82 pounds of textile waste annually.
A lot of individuals shop for tons of clothes but wear them less. At this point, we ask, “If your clothes are not built to last long and are harmful for the environment, are they still worth a place in your wardrobe?”
What Is Fast Fashion?
In today’s fashion industry, a lot of brands are trying to keep up with customer demand by overstocking stores then throwing away collections quickly as they transition to another fashion trend. This fast-paced process is known as fast fashion.
Fast fashion brands produce high volumes of clothing year-round. By selling clothes at affordable prices, consumers then follow the fashion trend led by these brands. They easily carry out impulsive buying, no matter how quickly these trends change throughout the year.
In a nutshell, consumers view fast fashion as made up of three factors: affordable, trendy, and disposable. From the producers’ perspective, this industry’s growth is based on higher production yet lower costs. To accommodate the loads of clothes they sell, fast fashion brands usually make clothing worth less than their price.
Why Is Fast Fashion Bad?
Several fast fashion brands release new clothing collections weekly and employ marketing strategies to entice consumers to go with the new trends. However, a lot of these companies are usually vague and cunning about what goes on behind their advertisements.
To help you recognize these clothing lines, here are some commonalities among fast fashion brands:
1. Environmental Impact
The rate of production that fast fashion brands apply is not sustainable for the environment. It entails a considerable amount of energy and resources as well as usage of chemicals like toxic fabric dyes. This leads to a growing amount of pollution, textile waste, and depletion of natural resources.
It is known that this industry is one of the most resource-intensive worldwide. For instance, several hundred gallons of water are used mainly in the production of cotton garments. More so, producing a single pair of jeans also necessitates 2,000 gallons of freshwater.
When it comes to its production and disposal, fast fashion leaves a large environmental footprint. As per Levi Strauss & Co., making one pair of jeans produces the same amount of carbon emissions as driving a car for 80 miles. In addition, the polyester textile production alone also contributes to around 706 million tons of greenhouse gases.
Despite these alarming concerns, fast fashion brands are not transparent as to how they are reducing their environmental impact. Some of these brands also practice green washing, wherein they provide misleading information to trick customers into viewing their company as an ethical and sustainable one.
2. Human Rights Violations
Fast fashion brands are also known to make violations against people’s rights — in this case, workers’ rights. A lot of them do not provide evidence that their workers work under safe and decent working conditions and that they are given sufficient living wages.
Given the cheap price of fast fashion products, it’s not feasible to pay garment industry workers fairly. The reality is that 40 million workers suffer from poor working conditions yet are paid less than they deserve for assembling garments.
Despite dominant U.S. consumption, 90 percent of the world’s clothing is produced in both low- and middle-income countries. While the majority of these workers are women aged 18 to 24, a 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that countries like the Philippines, India, China, Brazil, Vietnam, and Indonesia have been involved in both child and forced labor.
Many of these workers don’t make enough money monthly to accommodate their basic needs. They are also faced with safety and health concerns due to workplace accidents and life-threatening health standards. Due to poor air circulation, workers regularly breathe in textile fiber and dust, causing them to suffer from reproductive issues, lung disease, and even cancer.
Long working hours, hazardous working conditions, and pay below the living wage — the conditions of garment workers render fast fashion as unethical and inhumane. Unfortunately, a lot of these business issues go unreported in the mainstream media.
What Can We Do?
Fast fashion brands cultivate disposable fashion, and they are thriving off society’s obsession with consumerism. Taking the first step against the risks of unfair practices will protect the environment and the brand’s garment workers.
The best thing to do is avoid shopping from these brands, and pay more attention to the materials, production, and pricing of your garments. Greener fashion entails support for more sustainable and ethical brands.
Fortunately, a more positive light seeps through the world of fashion when it comes to an eco-friendly and worker-oriented approach. In a 2015 Nielsen survey, it was discovered that 66 percent of consumers globally mentioned that they are willing to pay more for companies that are committed to social and environmental impacts.
With the changing consumer attitudes towards brand transparency and sustainability, fashion lines are starting to reevaluate their environmental impact and labor practices.
Furthermore, a great alternative to fast fashion brands is known as slow fashion brands. These brands promote worker and environmental safety by practicing responsible manufacturing of lasting garments and fair labor rights.
As a consumer, there are some approaches that you can take to minimize the social and environmental impacts of fast fashion.
Among them are:
- Buying less clothes (especially from fast fashion brands)
- Choosing eco-friendly fabrics and high-quality styles
- Practicing clothing care and responsible recycling
- Avoiding impulsive buying
- Buying secondhand clothes
- Donating old or unused clothes instead of disposing them
Looking for Affordable, Quality Clothes?
Fast fashion is out, and sustainable clothing is in! For clothes you’ll adore on a budget, drop by our 29. For inquiries and donations, call Haven House Thrift Store today.