Fast Fashion: What is the Problem and How Can YOU Help?

The Problem

You may have seen the term ‘fast fashion’ circulating around the internet lately, but what exactly is it and what’s the issue? In a documentary called ‘The True Cost’ on Netflix (which I highly recommend watching), the impacts of this phenomenon on our world are brought to light. These impacts include  both environmental consequences and a number of ethical issues.

‘Fast fashion’ is when inexpensive clothing is produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest fashion trends. With clothing items being so cheap and the pressure to have the latest clothes growing, items are often seen as disposable products, and this view has heavily contributed to the creation of throwaway culture. Fast fashion has a devasting impact on the environment because the ‘throwaway mentality’ associated with the trend causes the need for more landfills to be formed. Much of this clothing is non-biodegradable, meaning these clothes may sit for around 200 years before disappearing. The landfills that the clothes are thrown into also release harmful gases and negatively affect the surrounding soil and water.

[Image: Resource]

On top of environmental problems, fast fashion has led to a series of ethical issues being raised. ‘The True Cost’ documentary states that 1 in 6 of the world’s population works for the global fashion industry. Factory workers that make these items of clothing, in countries such as Bangladesh or Vietnam, are facing poor working conditions and shockingly low wages; a profitable method for global fashion companies. Workers are often not respected and are treated inhumanely. For example, one woman in the documentary described being kicked and punched and beaten with sticks by the managers of the factory. In 2013, the topic was brought to the world’s attention, as a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,135 people in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

It is clear that fast fashion is a serious global problem that we face today, and the fact is that more needs to be done to stop this issue from continuing. Whilst we may not be able solve the entire problem ourselves, there are ways we can reduce our environmental impact.

[Image: Take Part]


What you can do:

1. Watch your buying habits. I’m not saying to never treat yourself, as it is always nice to have new items in your wardrobe, but it is important to watch how much we are buying. Shopping is a lot of fun but should not always be viewed as a hobby or a leisure activity. Sometimes being a part of the latest fashion trends can become too important. If you are constantly buying new clothes, not only does this impact your bank account but is also contributing to the problem of fast fashion.

2. Quality over quantity. We do hear this saying a lot, but it speaks volumes, especially as it relates to fast fashion and sustainability. You can actually save money in the long run from following this rule, as the quality items that you buy shouldn’t need to be replaced for a good amount of time. Remember – less is more.


3. Buy vintage clothes or clothes from charity shops. You can find great quality pieces of vintage clothing that have stood the test of time and will likely continue to. There’s always some sort of vintage sale going on in cities like Leeds, such as The Preloved Kilo, and they can be found at the university union or elsewhere. Find out the whereabouts of these vintage clothing sales by liking pages on Facebook. As for buying charity clothes, not only that it does wonders for your bank account, but you can actually find some amazing items of clothing, even high-end brands. Charity shops are everywhere so you will never struggle to find the clothes you are looking for.


4. Donate unwanted clothes to charity. If, like myself, you have an abundance of clothes that you just never wear, why not donate them to charity? You will be donating to a great cause!


5. Swap clothes with friends. Instead of buying a new outfit for that event coming up, why not borrow something off a friend? This is a fun way to have something ‘new’ to wear or when you are struggling to find that perfect outfit.