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Fast-fashion: Is it Worth the Negative Environmental and Social Impacts?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Winthrop chapter.

Fast Fashion is a term that has been used in the media a lot recently, But what exactly is it? Fast-fashion is defined as “cheap, trendy clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand,” by Good On You. Shops such as Shein, Romwe, Forever 21, and H&M are defined as fast-fashion stores. This term may sound like a positive for consumers, but it is extremely harmful to the environment and the people making it. With the clothing being so cheap to the consumer and cheap to make, it leads to a vast overproduction of the clothes. This overworks the workers as they have to produce more for little payments and potentially terrible work conditions.

Overloading thrift stores are also a big problem with fast fashion. Since the point is to be worn a few times then quickly discarded, a lot of people notice the wear and donate it or throw it away, then go and buy more. I personally have seen a huge increase in fast-fashion clothing when I go thrifting. Donating it affects the people buying it though. Some people rely on thrift stores for all of their clothing, as it is the only clothes in their potential price range. Overflowing thrift stores with worn down, fast fashion clothing is one of the main things they can find, they have to buy it. This causes them to buy clothes that are at a higher risk of falling apart, causing them to buy more and more, which they may not be able to afford. It also overcrowds the thrift stores, as the clothes that have been there the longest will stay there longer and potentially make the thrift store hit its max.

The environmental impact is terrible as well. With so many people throwing away the ripped and used fabrics it ends up in the oceans and landfills. This potentially affects the animals in the environment, as they could eat or get stuck in the fabrics. These clothing items also take years to decompose, leading them to sit for years and slowly rot our planet. Buying clothes with better quality that will last longer and finding ways to recycle the fabric is what is best for the environment.

This article is not meant to shame those who shop and buy into fast fashion but to raise awareness and get people to think before they buy.

With the TikTok trends like $100 dollar Shein hauls and the potential chance of getting $700 to online shop going around, it is almost impossible to not want to dive in. Also, buying one or two items off for an event or to get a certain look is not terrible, it’s convenient. It is overconsumption and constant purchasing that are harmful. Overly buying from these companies contributes to the need to make more, and that exploits the workers, thrift stores, and the environment.

Breanna Gayle is a senior Special Education major here at Winthrop as well as an exec member for Chi Omega and Circle of Sisterhood!! She is also a member of the Council for Exceptional Children. She can usually be seen hanging around campus with friends or getting an iced coffee. She is very excited and honored to be a part of the Her Campus crew!!