Buy, wear, trash, repeat

Fast fashion continues on its destructive path

Story by Zoe Rushing, Advertising Editor

What is fast fashion? Fast fashion is a marketing and production method that focuses on producing mass amounts of cheap, trendy clothes that are made to resemble catwalk clothes and trendy styles of the time. The idea is consumers can purchase the clothes to keep up with the latest trends for a low price and then discard the clothes when a new style comes in. 

The idea of purchasing nice-looking clothes for a low price sounds appealing but nothing is without its flaws, and this method of production has a few major problems. With so many clothes being made and thrown out in such a rapid manner, problems ensue for employees, the environment and even consumers themselves because of it. 

Its effects on the environment are by far the worst in the fashion industry. The fashion industry is one of the world’s largest polluters; in the U.S. alone, 11 million tons of clothing are thrown out and sent to landfills each year. With fast fashion encouraging this by its own methods of overproduction and waste, landfills continue to get overfilled each year with nice clothes that have barely been touched.  

Waste is a big part of the problem, but it’s not the only part of the cycle contributing. The material the clothes are made of are being used in excess and have their own environmental issues. There is polyester, which is made of fossil fuels and adds to global warming. Next, there is cotton, which requires excessive amounts of water and pesticides that can result in droughts. All of these materials that go into fast fashion production are being used to such a severe degree for outfits that some people will only wear a few times before tossing them away.  

The harm that the environment receives from this industry is devastating, but it isn’t the only thing being harmed in the process. Workers and consumers are harmed as well due to the methods of the fashion industry.  

Workers are constantly producing clothes to keep up with consumption and surrounding themselves with the chemicals that are used in products like benzothiazoles that can be toxic to people and have health effects from exposure. Besides chemical exposure, workers also have to work long hours for companies with little pay, sometimes only $300 for over 60 hours of work, and they sometimes even face violations of their rights.

Consumers aren’t harmed necessarily in a physical manner like the workers and the environment are, but fast fashion is built on the toxic idea of physical objects bringing people joy and acceptance. It encourages wasteful habits that can easily spill over into other aspects of life. However, consumers can have the biggest effect on companies and fast fashion by working to stop contributing to the fast fashion concept.

The biggest way individuals can help decrease fast fashion and its influences is to simply stop shopping from brands that promote fast fashion. There are several ways to identify a fast fashion brand such as a concerningly short production time for new items, prices that seem too good to be true and the company being vague about how and where their products were made. These are the signs to look for to identify which places should be avoided. 

However, shopping from these brands may be a necessity for some because of the cost. Because of this, it’s best to not throw away clothes that are in good condition. Buy clothes that are going to be worn for a while. When you’re done with the clothes, donate, upcycle, repurpose and recycle them instead of throwing them out.

At its core, fast fashion is destructive to many different areas, and it encourages everything wrong with the fashion industry. From its treatment of workers to the encouragement of overproduction and careless throwing away of clothes, it is evident that individuals should try, even in the smallest ways, to stop fast fashion from growing further in years to come before the consequences of it become irreversible.