Why You Should Consider Cutting Out Fast Fashion

*Disclaimer: The goal of this article is not to make anyone feel guilty, the goal is to educate people. I'm not trying to tell anyone how to live their life or how to shop. No pointing fingers, no blame being placed on people who shop at fast fashion contributors, none of that; everyone has free will and can make their own choices. The goal is to make a difference by educating people about it, and I hope that less people will turn a blind eye to these companies and this corrupt system.

The topic of fast fashion has been in circulation for years, but most people are only recently discovering the significance of its impact. What is fast fashion, you ask? Well, it can be simply described as “cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed” (https://goodonyou.eco/what-is-fast-fashion/). Sounds pretty great, right? Wrong.

Sure, fast fashion is convenient: the clothing is cheap, stores that contribute are plentiful, and you’re able to buy the hottest trends without breaking the bank. However, there are so MANY things that are wrong with this industry, and it’s important that people are aware of the implications of contributing to this terrible epidemic of clothing production and consumption. 

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by forever21 (@forever21) on

 

Fast fashion is bad for the environment. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter of clean water, preceding agriculture. This is due to the use of cheap, textile dyes, which are harmful to the environment. Most clothes in fast fashion retailers use polyester, a cheaply made fabric derived from fossil fuels, which contributes to the issue of global warming. Not only does the production of polyester contribute to global warming, it can shed microfibers that are contributing to the levels of plastic in our oceans. Remember when Starbucks starting making environmentally-friendly lids to help save the turtles? Little did you know that the production of your clothes was contributing to the same problem. That’s not to say that the production of other fabrics used to make clothing aren’t harmful as well, but polyester is arguably the most harmful, and that fabric is mainly used by fast fashion retailers. 

Perhaps the hardest pill for me to swallow was learning about the manner in which fast fashion factory workers are treated/paid. I had minimal prior knowledge on this subject, but I was aware of the basic facts that the factory conditions were poor and that workers were underpaid. I was disgusted upon learning that these workers are *extremely* underpaid, making less than $2 per day. People in third world countries are slaving in terrible working conditions that are far beneath the basic labor laws we have here in America. Bangladesh is considered to have the some of the poorest working conditions and pay for factory workers, and that is where most western fast fashion companies produce their clothes. Workers in those factories make approximately as much as $10 per month. They have fought to better their working conditions, but have been ridiculed and attacked by their higher ups for trying to do so. These third world countries in which fast fashion pieces are being produced have little to no regard for healthcare, and people are being forced to work for poor wages despite the fact that they’re suffering from diseases and sicknesses such as jaundice and cancers. I don’t know about anyone else, but it doesn’t make me feel good knowing that people slaved and sweat for $0.16 an hour, all for a low quality $10 t-shirt that I would soon regard after purchasing as irrelevant. 

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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I’m not going to deny that it’s challenging to cut out fast fashion. It’s like cutting anything out: you have to do it gradually. It’s mainly a monetary commitment to cut out fast fashion because the chances of you being able to find cheap clothing are slimmer (unless you’re thrifting/ buying clothing secondhand, which is a really great way to combat fast fashion.) Wondering what stores contribute? Here’s a list of some of the most prominent fast fashion retailers:

-Forever 21

-Uniqlo

-Zara

-H&M

-Victoria’s Secret

-Primark

-Zaful

-Boohoo


This is an ongoing issue that is so much bigger than any of us, but there are ways you can help. The easiest way is to simply stop shopping at these stores. It’s definitely not easy, especially when you’re so used to relying on these stores for your basic essentials. However, there are so many other stores that have better quality clothing that will last you way longer than cheaply made clothing will. I’ve also found that cutting out fast fashion has made me a smarter shopper... I’m buying things that I actually need as opposed to things that are fun and easily disposable. Yes, it is challenging to cut out fast fashion. However, the benefits are abundant not only for you, but for underprivileged factory workers and the environment. 

Want to learn more about fast fashion? Check out the impactful, informational documentary on Netflix called The True Cost or watch the documentary Riverblue to learn more about how fast fashion contributes to water pollution.