The Damaging Effects of Fast Fashion

Ashley Aguirre, Copy Editor

Fast fashion is a form of clothing production that runs on utilizing cheaper, lower condition material and labor to manufacture clothing at rapid rates. The designs used are generally recycled throughout a plethora of manufacturers as they tend to apply similar trends seen in pop culture and altering them slightly throughout a number of companies.  

   Clothing made from fast fashion follows many short lived trends that are inspired by celebrities, allowing companies to mark down the costs to make them more accessible. Despite these trends dying out, manufacturers still go on to produce a surplus of clothing that eventually is discarded—resulting in a waste of materials. 

    The fast fashion industry is the second largest contributor to pollution in the world; second only to the oil industry. With the rapid production of repetitive clothing, materials tend to run short. This results in a pressing need for the manufacturing of more materials. 

   Borgen Magazine reported, “500,000 tons of microfibers, or tiny pieces of non-biodegradable materials” ends up in landfills around the world as a cause of clothes being thrown out from companies that operate through fast fashion. 

   These cheap microfibers that are currently used to increase the rate of production in the clothing industry eventually, go from a landfill to the ocean, having the potential to destroy underwater ecosystems. found that, “North Americans send 9.5 million tons of clothing to the landfill every year”many of these clothes could have come to use through being donated or upcycled. 

   The issue of cheap labor is rooted in the fast fashion industry. High rates of production causes those who are tasked with making the garments work grueling hours and receive low pay to supply companies with such cheap and quickly made clothing. Since these workers are based overseas, many of their labor rights are not under high regulation, allowing companies to exploit these workers free of consequences.  These workers are some of the lowest paid in the world, and it is easy to ignore for many shoppers because of the drastically low prices of the clothes.

    Efforts to decrease the impact of fast fashion for the benefit of the environment and many garment workers has been implemented. Organizations such as the  Clean Clothes Campaign “aims to improve the working conditions of workers in the fast fashion industry”. Since their founding in 1989, they have launched campaigns aimed to educate workers and those buying fast fashion on the harmfulness of the industry. 

     There are many ways you as a consumer can aid in the effort to reduce the impact of fast fashion on the world. For example, many teenagers and young adults have taken up thrift shopping in order to reduce the amount they are spending on brand new clothing made in these fast fashion garment shops. It is important to ensure that shoppers do not bulk buy and raise the prices of thrift stores for those most in need of them. 

    Another way of reducing textile waste sent to landfills is donating clothes to those same thrift stores; both helping those in need of cheaper clothes and keeping a circulation of recycled clothes available to others.