Before watching the documentary The True Cost in my writing class last week, I knew little about “fast fashion”. The documentary discusses the chilling side of the fashion industry and the harrowing results of buying into fast fashion. Fast fashion is “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” Brands such as Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 are just a few examples of brands that give into trends and forfeit fair wages and proper working conditions to grow financially.
There are millions of people working in the fashion industry. Most of them face unsafe working conditions, unfair wages, and physical side effects. This workplace is rotting, causing pollution to our air and water, and making it extremely dangerous for individuals to work in certain areas. It is unacceptable. As broke college students, it’s easy to look at a five-dollar shirt and say, “Perfect! I’ll wear it out, and if it gets ruined, I’ll just throw it out!” However, it is essential to recognize the roots of the clothing we are purchasing. We oftentimes may be supporting an unjust brand without knowing it. When we buy items from brands such as these, we as consumers mindlessly state that we are proponents of the working conditions they provide and the wages they give to their workers. Often on the news, we hear of massive garment factories collapsing, killing up to thousands of workers who work to make just enough money to survive. But nothing has changed. People are dying while making the clothes we wear, yet it is still a minor topic of discussion. It is difficult to recognize the devastation of these situations without being present, but it is important as a new generation to fight for the rights of workers and consume responsibly and respectfully.
As consumers, it is expected that we buy products, use them, and dispose of them. This is a new concept within the fashion industry. Clothes, in their roots, were not worn for consumption, but rather to be worn until they are completely worn out or no longer fit. But nowadays, more and more people buy an article of clothing, wear it once or twice, and then throw it in the trash can. This leads to a significant problem: all of these clothing items are thrown into landfills, where decomposition takes hundreds of years. This leads to detrimental effects on the Earth and the people living nearby, magnifying our pollution problem.
The moral of the story is that things need to change– specifically consumers and their behaviors. Although this will be a long and difficult issue to solve, it is vital for as many people as possible to recognize the detriments of fast fashion. This problem affects both humanity and our planet. We must recognize and respect the importance of each and every individual and fight for their rights to live and work in a safe environment.