Fast Fashion: Everything You Need to Know, and Why You Should Avoid It

I’m sure you’ve noticed the “Made in China” label on the majority of your clothing items and accessories, but have you ever given much thought to it? Probably not. Most of us don’t, because for us it is so normal to have everything at our fingertips, ready and waiting to be purchased, with a thousand copies of the same item in stock to fill its place when it’s bought. As our society is (finally) becoming more environmentally aware, it’s important we start thinking about where we get our clothes from, too—and the negative impact it may have on our Earth.

Fast Fashion: an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.

For many, many years fast fashion has been running the clothing industry, and nobody has even batted an eye. Why? Because people love convenience. The downside is, we are just now seeing the harm we’ve been contributing to for far too long. Finally, fast fashion and it’s negative effects have been brought to the forefront of discussion regarding environmental issues. More and more people are realizing the harmful environmental impact the fast fashion industry has on our planet. If you’re thinking, “what the heck is fast fashion and why is it such a bad thing?” and have absolutely no idea why we’re all so worried about it, look no further. You’re about to learn all about the negative impact of fast fashion, why you should avoid it, and how to best go about doing that.

  1. 1. We Are Polluting Our Home

    First and foremost, the most obvious reason to stray away from the fast fashion industry. The practices implemented by fast fashion companies produce so much waste, it’s almost unbelievable. Along with the fact that the fashion industry is responsible for producing ten percent of global carbon emissions due to its manufacturing plants, it is also responsible for producing twenty percent of global wastewater. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported that clothes release half a million tons of microfibers into the ocean every year, equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. And if that isn’t enough to put you on edge, microfibers are almost impossible to clean up and can end up in the food we eat—just something for you to chew on.

  2. 2. These Companies Provide Unfair Working Conditions

    This one is no secret, yet too many people seem to turn a blind eye towards it. These fast fashion companies have been outsourcing their labor to countries such as China, Bangladesh, and India for so long, most people don’t think twice about it now. Only when a huge tragedy makes it on the news, like the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing manufacturing facility in Bangladesh, do we think about the horrifyingly poor conditions many people are put through in the production of our clothes.  Workers are constantly starved, underpaid, and abused just for stores to be jam packed full of clothing—some of it never even being bought and ultimately thrown in a landfill. Not to mention, more likely than not, there was a child among the many hands making your clothing item.

  3. 3. Healthy Planet, Healthy Economy

    People—we are producing so much more clothes than we actually need! Aside from the pollution, we are losing approximately 400 billion USD every year because of the amount of unworn and unrecycled clothing being wasted. The Pulse of the Fashion Industry report found that the fashion industry would actually benefit immensely from moving toward a circular economy, providing a $192 billion overall benefit to the global economy by 2030. Switching to more sustainable practices in the clothing industry is an essential step towards preserving the environment and our resources.

  4. 4. How Can You Do Your Part?

    It's pretty easy, actually. All you need to do is be mindful of where you're buying your clothes from. Avoid big fast fashion companies as much as possible and support eco-friendly brands, as well as thrift shops. When you've got clothes laying around in your closet that no longer serve you, don't just toss them. Donate them to your local thrift store or repurpose them--like tearing up an old shirt to use as cleaning rags.

    Some Fast Fashion Clothing Brands to Avoid:

    H&M

    Forever 21

    American Eagle

    Urban Outfitters

    Romwe, Boohoo, Wish, and Shein

    Victoria's Secret

    Zara

    Zaful

    Cotton On

    Esprit

    Fashion Nova

    Gap/Old Navy

     

    Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Clothing Brands:

    Everlane

    Pact

    Reformation

    Able

    Alternative Apparel

    People Tree

    Patagonia

    ThredUp

    For a more detailed comprehensive list, visit thegoodtrade.com

The good news to all of this is that many of these fast fashion brands are starting to listen and are taking small steps to more sustainable practices. For example, H&M created a new line of clothing called Conscious, which has clothing made from organic and sustainably sourced materials. American Eagle started a recycling program where you get $10 off a pair of jeans when you bring in any old pair--from any brand, too--in store during the time of purchase. But we can't just stop there. Though some fast fashion companies are working towards sustainable practices, many still use sweatshops and child labor in their manufacturing facilites. We still have to keep pushing for more sustainable--and ethical--practices.