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Over the recent years, the environmental issues the earth is facing impact our environment and our quality of life. It is also apparent that if we do nothing about it, these environmental issues will become a threat to the human race. With the rate of pollution and climate change accelerating rapidly, environmental sustainability is becoming increasingly important in our society today. As a result of this, there is this emerging movement to abandon fast fashion. The term “fast fashion” was first coined in the 1990s, where Zara and other big apparel companies gained popularity. Fast fashion is described as cheap and low-quality clothing produced by big profitable chain stores through mass production. Zara, H&M, Topshop, and Uniqlo are some of the leading fast-fashion brands. Given that fashion trends are always coming and going, many people purchase fast fashion clothing because of its affordable prices and trendy designs. However, cheap and trendy clothing comes with a cost.

Sign at a climate change protest
Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash

Not only does fast fashion damages the environment, but it also leads to unethical business practices. With the production of cheap clothing, waste will increase. Fast fashion further contributes to the disposable culture in our society, where people tend to purchase products that cannot be reused. Moreover, the factories that mass produce these cheap clothing mainly use chemicals that are environmentally unfriendly. The waste and chemicals generate additional air, water, and land pollution. In addition to harming the environment, fast fashion brands take extreme measures to reduce the cost of production. Numerous brands got exposed for violating employee rights and conducting unethical practices; this includes hiring child labor, low and unfair wages, dangerous working conditions, etc. If we continue to shop at these brands, it will only encourage the growth of the fast fashion industry and continue to worsen the environment.

We, as a society, are conditioned by the fashion industry to purchase new clothing every time a new trend emerges. It’s difficult for people to abandon purchasing from fast fashion brands, as I am also sometimes guilty of buying clothing from these brands. But like many things in life, change only occurs when we take the first step. First, to stop buying fast fashion, we need to educate ourselves on how and why fast fashion is unsustainable. Change can happen by doing our research using the internet, watching documentaries, and reading books. There are many great resources about fast fashion and sustainability available for everyone to utilize.

Thrift store
Photo by Nilay Sozbir from Unsplash

Subsequently, the next step is to find alternatives to fast fashion. There are many ways to be fashionable and sustainable at the same time. Instead of buying from fast-fashion retailers, you can always support small businesses or ethical and sustainable fashion brands. Small businesses often produce their clothes by hand instead of mass-producing, offering their customers more personalized and well-made clothing. Ethical and sustainable fashion brands create their clothes using biodegradable or eco-friendly materials while emphasizing treating their employees fairly. Although buying from small businesses and sustainable brands is more expensive, their products are usually better quality and designed to be more durable. These clothes are considered long-term investments because of their quality and sustainability compared to the cheap and low-quality fast fashion clothing. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on clothes, thrifting is another option to consider. Thrifting is a great way to discover unique and vintage pieces while recycling and reusing old pieces of clothing. People often find the best deals in thrift shops, since they offer high-quality second-hand clothes at a lower cost.

The next most important step is to take action. Acting against fast fashion can be more than just stopping buying clothes from these brands. It can be spreading awareness by sharing information with family and friends or donating clothes to nonprofit organizations and those in need. This step is crucial to reduce our fashion environmental impact while trying to achieve sustainability. We don’t have to sacrifice fashion for sustainability; was hence everyone can avoid fast fashion and move towards sustainable fashion. By taking one step at a time, I believe that we can move closer towards being sustainable and saving the environment. So together, it is time for us to quit fast fashion.

Iris Au

UCD '22

Iris is studying Communications and Economics at the University of California, Davis. She is currently a senior and is a big fan of cheesy rom-coms and cooking shows. She hopes to pursue a future career in public relations or marketing after graduating college.
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