With the fall season coming to an end and the holiday season upon us, it’s officially that time of year where people start to scramble for gifts. If you’re wondering where to shop, then look no further than this article. But before we get to that, we should keep the dangers of fast fashion in mind for this hectic and busy time of the year.
Fast fashion is a practice where large companies use unethical means to mass produce more articles of clothing faster. This allows companies to sell more products for cheap and ultimately improve sales and make more money.
According to Green America, the factory workers for these companies are subjected to working in unethical conditions for long hours without receiving a living wage. Many of these factories have been accused of labor rights violations, including gender inequality such as sexual harassment and physical abuse, and unsafe working conditions that can go as far as factors collapsing and taking hundreds of lives.
According to Good On You and Marketplace: the practice of fast fashion is not only extremely exploitative towards factory workers, but also incredibly damaging to the environment. Most of the products that are created through fast fashion methods are not purchased and then discarded, filling up landfills as well as polluting land, water, and air. The fabrics used in these products are often ridden with toxic chemicals from dyes like oil-based pesticides as well as non-biodegradable materials that represent ⅕ of water pollution.
Fast fashion releases a ton of carbon emissions into the atmosphere; it also causes the release of micro plastics and 70 barrels of crude oil into the ocean annually, which takes 200 years to dissolve. Since fast fashion products aren’t built to last, customers and businesses often end up throwing out or even burning discarded products. However, most products end up in landfills with ⅗ of fast fashion items ending up in landfills. Many companies offer their customers a way to return their used items from that brand, and while these companies claim to recycle these products they often just throw them away. The clothing deficit myth explains the phenomenon in which people believe that the clothes they give discard are actually given to the less fortunate, but in reality clothes are either shredded, sitting in a warehouse or in landfills, or sold to developing countries. Many of these countries no longer want to be sold used clothes, so clothes are most likely to end up in landfills.
So what does this mean for the holiday season? This is the perfect opportunity for brands that rely heavily on fast fashion, like H&M, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, The Gap, and more to make even more sales despite their unethical means of production. However, there are ways that we, the consumers, can support ethical means of production. For clothing purchases, there are brands like Tentree, Patagonia, Organic Basics, Eileen Fisher and more that create their products sustainably. For makeup, there’s Ilia, 100% Pure, RMS beauty, and Vapour, just to name a few, and for jewelry there’s BaYou with Love, Kendra Scott, Akola, and much more.
For this holiday season, let’s try to give the best gifts while also staying sustainable!