Fast fashion is the mass production of high-trend items at a very low cost. Because these items are produced at such a low cost, it is what many people tend to spend their money on when shopping for clothes. The fast fashion industry accounts for more than half of the online shopping market, making the global market value of fast fashion 36 billion dollars in 2019. Something my classmates and I discussed was how back before the 70’s, everyone had a couple of pieces of clothing that lasted them throughout the whole year depending on the season. Nowadays, we cycle through clothing like no other, as many people are constantly buying new clothes even if they don’t necessarily need them. These fast fashion companies are successful because they work fast and cycle through style after style, keeping up with the demands of their consumers. Although it is very affordable, this industry is causing negative impacts on the environment, as well as many societal issues when it comes to labor conditions.
This popular industry plays a major role in why our environment’s wellbeing is declining at such a quick rate. Fashion production compromises 10 percent of the total carbon gas emissions, as well as 85 percent of textiles go to the dump each year. The fashion industry, especially fast fashion brands do not use renewable energy sources, which allows them to sell their products for so cheap. The dyeing process of textiles is especially detrimental, as it continues to pollute the water. Many companies are not environmentally conscious when it comes to the use of water. They tend to not clean out the dirty water to reuse it, but instead dump it out into the ocean which causes extreme amounts of pollution. The synthetic fibers that these brands tend to use such as polyester and acrylic, take hundreds of years to biodegrade.
The labor conditions of fast fashion brands tend to be very poor as well, as the amount of profit and income these companies are making is more important than working conditions. A study was done showing that 1 in 6 people work in the fashion industry, making it the most labor-dependent industry. Apparel makers are mostly young women around the ages of 18-24 who are exploited for their skills. Most of these workers overseas are paid under a dollar an hour and are struggling to even make ends meet. They work long hours in poor environments.
In my opinion, all of these issues really come down to money. Companies want to keep using cheap production methods in order to keep their prices low and to keep generating profits. I think when it comes to lecturing people on taking care of the environment, we have to stop pointing the finger at each other and demand the large corporations to be better. Fast fashion companies need to invest in a more reusable and sustainable business model for the environment as well as their employees which are the backbone of their paychecks. One of the best solutions to these problems are the selling and purchasing of secondhand clothing done by companies like Poshmark. A solution my classmates and I discussed was these fast fashion retailers implementing buy back programs so that way fabric can be reused. We must continue to hold these large corporations accountable in order to create a better future for our environment as well as the labor force of the fashion industry.