Fast Fashion - Why it’s a Problem and Why we Should Care

Most of us have probably heard of the term “fast fashion” by now. However, some of us probably don’t even really know what it is, or fully understand it. Oxford defines fast fashion as “Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” Okay, companies are able to sell large amounts of product for very low costs to the buyer - so what? Isn’t that what consumers want, cheap but trendy clothing? Yes, but many consumers are oblivious to the harmful effects that come with fast fashion.

 

How are companies able to afford to have so many employees when they sell their products for so little? Well, many of the companies that contribute to fast fashion do not pay their employees enough, and have them work in poor conditions. For example, fast fashion workers in Bangladesh get paid about the equivalence of 33 U.S. cents per hour, according to Fast Company. That is obviously not nearly enough to cover anyone’s cost of living. These workers also usually put in hours upon hours of work, for the company to profit big in the end. This is cruel and inhumane;these workers deserve much better, and much more of these major companies’ profit.

 

Fast fashion not only affects underpaid workers all over the world, it also has detrimental impacts on the environment. One reason why these articles of clothing are being sold for so cheap is because they are made out of cheap material. This material often is made with toxic dyes and chemicals. Additionally, Battered Women’s Support Services said “Fashion—a $2.5 trillion sector—is the second most polluting industry on Earth, right behind oil.” They also said that it is “The second largest polluter of clean water globally …” To really put it in perspective, clothes take an average of 80 years to break down, after they are thrown out, according to Battered Women’s Support Services. 80 years! Our Earth is suffering because of choices us consumers make to support these dangerous, high-profiting corporations.

 

There are multiple ways you can help reduce fast fashion. For one, do your research; it is very easy to google whether a certain company contributes to fast fashion, and how they treat their employees. If they are a part of the fast fashion industry, really consider taking your money elsewhere. This does not necessarily mean you will have to spend more. Thrift stores are a great alternative to shop at that supports healthy fashion and shopping habits. Furthermore, many local shops and boutiques do not participate in fast fashion, and it is always great to shop local. Another way you can help is to donate your unwanted clothes whenever you can! Thrift stores will gladly take your donations, along with homeless shelters and various community organizations. 

 

We can help dramatically reduce the impacts of fast fashion if we become more conscious and aware of the problem. Try not to shop at major corporations that benefit from fast fashion whenever you can. Buying that shirt is not worth the harm that will be brought to the environment, and the exploitation of workers. Remember, we contribute to the problem by choosing to ignore the problem. Donate. Do your research. Do your part.

 

Sources:

 

“Oxford Languages and Google - English.” Oxford Languages, languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/.

 

Peters, Adele. “Why This Clothing Company Is Making Its Factory Wages Public.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 8 Aug. 2018, 

www.fastcompany.com/90213069/why-this-clothing-company-is-making-its-fac....

 

“The Problem with Fast Fashion.” BWSS, 27 Aug. 2019, www.bwss.org/fastfashion/.