Why is Fast Fashion Bad for the Environment?

fast fashion

The average consumer that is shopping for any kind of clothing often isn’t thinking about where or how it was made. In fact, that is most likely the very last thing on their mind. They are probably thinking more about things like, “how much will this cost me?”, “can I buy other things if I buy this?”, “will this look good on me?”. When really consumers need to start thinking about, “where was this made”, “what is this made out of”, “will I wear this for the next 10 years, and will it last that long?”.

Companies that are pumping out this so called “fast fashion” are making millions by preying off of consumers with these mind sets, and in turn they have created monstrous empires of fast fashion that is being dumped by the truck load every second in our landfills. It’s time to educate ourselves and each other on how to purchase clothing, and understand fully the question, why is fast fashion bad for the environment?

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is a term coined for mass-producers of clothing that are making things with synthetic fabrics, pumping out new looks on the regular, hiring underpaid workers, and creating the fastest, cheapest, lowest quality clothing someone can buy. So, why is fast fashion bad for the environment?

What is this doing to our environment?

The issue with this industry is two main things, the quality of how it is made ( the one-use mentality) and the process of how it is made. Touching on the quality of the clothing, more times then not the clothing that someone buys will only be able to be worn a handful of times. The reason being is because something might rip, fade, shrink, or simply go out of style. Most consumers aren’t going to take the time to mend their clothing because mentally they are thinking about how much the item cost, so they end up just throwing it away. Once these ditched threads hit the landfill it takes up to 80 years for them to decompose.

Have you ever done this before? Think back to a time when you bought maybe a sweater, or a jacket that was well-made and cost maybe hundreds of dollars. If you ripped a seam or spilled something on the jacket, you would fix it because you know it was not only expensive, but that it will continue to last if you take care of it. On the other hand, if you bought a shirt for $5 and spilled something on it, you will most likely throw it away because there is no “worth” to the item. Starting to make your wheels turn?

Here is the other side of the coin to the question “why is fast fashion bad for the environment?”. The consequences of how these companies create fast fashion before it’s put into the hands of buyers is devastating. The people that are employed by these companies are mostly women, and only 2% of them are earning a living wage. On top of that, it takes 700 gallons of water to produce just one single shirt, making this industry the 2nd largest consumer of water in the world. (Remember, water isn’t everlasting, in fact the earth’s fresh water supply is slowly disappearing.) Not only are they using water, but they are also the 2nd largest polluter of water in the world because of the dying methods they are implementing. These companies are literally destroying water systems for themselves and the entire planet all in the name of fashion and money.

Fast fashion brands are filling themselves and the mind’s of it’s consumers with a notion that it is okay to completely ignore the fact that our environment’s air quality, oceans, landfills, and ecosystems are being completed destroyed.

What YOU can do to fix this

First and foremost, stop buying clothing from these companies! If you google “fast fashion brands” you can find a list of companies that are under this category. Some of them will probably surprise you, but it’s so important to “not feed the beast”. Once you eliminate your negative options, start thinking “quality over quantity”, and “what you need over what you want.”

Once you determine what you really may “need”, first head to your local consignment and second hand stores. You would be surprised what you can find without breaking the bank. Even when you’re second-hand shopping be sure to do some quality control of your items before purchasing. Look at things like, the type of fabric, seams, buttons, zippers, and ask yourself “will this last me a long time?”

Likewise, if you are looking to clean house in your own closet, be sure to always donate these items. If something is ruined or isn’t fit to wear look outside the box and make it into something else that can be utilized. If you don’t sew, ask a friend!

If you aren’t able to find what you need at a second-hand store, your next option is to research companies that are re-purposing clothing, recycling, or creating sustainable threads. Check out The Good Trades “35 Ethical and Sustainable Clothing Brands Betting against Fast Fashion” for some brands that are striving for environmental change in this industry.

Wrapping it up

I hope you can see a glimpse into “why is fast fashion bad for the environment?” Certainly we are all guilty of buying cheap clothing. It is understandable the mindset that often consumes us when we are tight on money and just want or need clothing. Years ago there were only 2 trends on the market, now there are over 52! Self expression through fashion is important because it’s part of who we are, and a way that we can express who we are inside. But, this doesn’t mean that we need to resort to unworthy brands destroying the planet. Let’s start to express ourselves in a more sustainable way, let’s make sustainable a trend!

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