Why We Should Stop Shopping "Fast Fashion"

Fast fashion is the reality we live in today. Stores like Forever 21 and H&M constantly push out affordable, new styles of clothing as runway trends come and go. Clothes nowadays are no longer “timeless” and things go in and out of style extremely quickly. The cheap nature of these items makes them tempting to the general public, especially for the jobless youth. However, they are extremely damaging to the environment and to the garment workers who make them.

Society and advertising enforces the idea that we must all follow the current trends of the season. But now, the shift of style is so quickly paced that perfectly good clothing is seen as dated, and is thus discarded at alarming rates. Even when we donate clothes in an attempt to give them another life, the clothes may still end up in landfills if thrift stores cannot handle the inventory. According to Newsweek, 84 percent of clothing goes into landfills. The natural and semi-synthetic fibers in some clothes produce methane, a greenhouse gas. Synthetic fibers, like polyester, are non-biodegradable and take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Fast fashion is both a waste of consumer money and a threat to the environment.

The huge demand for cheap clothing is also a major contribution to modern slavery. Large companies outsource labor to countries like China and Bangladesh, where there are looser regulations regarding labor laws and wages. The Bangladesh Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, for example, killed over 1,000 people. Because the garment workers are in such great need for money, they must work long hours in dangerous working conditions, for incredibly low wages. Oxfam International states that a CEO of a major fashion brand makes in four days what a Bangladeshi garment worker makes in a lifetime. This gross disparity highlights the inhumanity of the fashion industry. Is our fashion worth the lives of millions of underpaid garment workers?

Luckily, we can all do our part to make a difference. An easy way to avoid buying fast fashion without splurging too much is to buy clothing second hand! Whether it’s a thrift store, a consignment store or an online resale site, buying second hand prolongs the lifespan of clothing, so it does not pile onto the landfill quite as quickly. Most of these options are still affordable, but don’t give profit to companies that support slavery.

If buying old clothes isn’t for you, you can also buy clothing from ethical or sustainable brands. Some of these brands include Paloma Wool, Lisa Says Gah, Reformation, and Les Femmes. These can be a bit pricey, but their pieces are truly built to last, and the money goes toward more environmentally friendly fabrics and to giving workers a proper wage. There are still affordable options, like CHNGE, a brand that promises sustainability and transparency. Another way to help is to donate to organizations like Labour Behind the Label or the Clean Clothes Campaign, both of which help directly support garment workers worldwide.

If we are just a little more conscious of where we buy our clothing and how much we buy, we can all help make the world a better place. Cherish your clothes and be grateful for what you have!