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Everybody wants to be trendy, but what happens when staying fashionable is killing our environment and supporting slave labor? Brands like Forever 21, H&M, and Zara are all companies that are affordable and trendy but are culprits of one of the largest problems in our world: fast fashion.

Webster’s Dictionary describes fast fashion as, “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.”

Fast fashion is destroying the environment.

Fast fashion is negatively impacting the environment due to an overflux of too many clothing items and not enough places to put them. According to The Huffington Post, the world consumes 80 billion pieces of clothing each year. You read that right, 80 billion pieces. The Green Hubstates that only 10 percent of the clothes people donate to thrift stores or charities get sold, the rest goes to landfill.

There is simply not enough room on this planet for all of those clothing items. Landfills begin to pile up and once the clothing items begin to decompose, it begins to emit methane, which is considered to be a (dangerous) greenhouse gas. It takes an average of 1,849 gallons of water toproduce one pair of jeans. That is about the amount of water you drink over the course of five to six years. In China, the largest supplier of apparel to the US, 70 percent of the waterways are contaminated by wastewater from the textile and dye industry. Let’s face it: fast fashion is toxic to our environment.

Photo courtesy of Adam Smith Institute

Fast fashion is promoting slave labor.

The wages of workers in garment factories can be as low as US $1-$3 a day, according to The Green Hub. These workers will be forced to work in disgusting and inhumane conditions in order to make these cheap fashionable pieces. Not only, are these workers not being paid enough, but the conditions of the shops that they are working in are also deadly.

In a recent study conducted by The Garment Worker Center, 82 percent of sweatshop employees said that they had no safety training. Another 60 percent said that they are working in high temperatures, with dust often blocking the ventilation systems. Some employees work ten day weeks with no breaks in between their 12 hour shifts. Retailers need to be held responsible for the conditions of their factories and the terrible wages that their workers are being paid.

Fast fashion is a never-ending cycle.

Every season there is inevitably going to be a new trend that hits the market. Many people want to be trendy and wear what is cool at the time, but they do not want to spend a lot of money on a temporary item. That is where many of the fast fashion retailers find their perfect time to strikebecause they will create “knock-off” versions of these trendy pieces at a very low cost. We all know what happens when you buy a trendy piece: you wear it three or four times, get tired of it, and throw it out. Thus, the never-ending fast fashion cycle continues.

Photo courtesy of True Tribe

Fast fashion is going to fall apart.

Not only, is fast fashion terrible for the environment and its’ workers, but the clothing is also specifically designed to be made cheaply so that it falls apart faster. This is the definition of taking advantage of your consumer. Because the clothes will fall apart faster due to cheap fabrics and materials, you contribute to the problem by buying more clothes to replace the previous items and causing these companies to make more money.

Brands that are helping.

The good news is that there are ways that you can help to not contribute to fast fashion. Brands, like Reformation and Everlane, are trying to help change the environment by using recycled materials and by paying their workers real and livable wages. Sure, the price tag is a tad bithigher, but you are paying for quality and sustainability and I would say that is pretty awesome.

Fast fashion is not a problem that is going to be solved overnight. It probably will not even be solved in the next ten years, but what can happen is you can help make a difference by not purchasing from retailers that are causing these problems. By recycling your clothes, buying items from ethical brands, and going thrifting, we can help end fast fashion one t-shirt at a time.

I love fashion, beauty, and food (obvs)!!! Follow me on Instagram: kristyngbeauty!!!
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