By Madison Martin | Broadcast Reporter
Fast fashion is a business model for low-cost, trendy clothes that mimic runway styles and are sold in typical street stores at a speedy pace to meet consumer demands. The desire for clothes to be produced in “backbreaking” time is to purchase them at the height of their popularity for a low price. This trend-led fashion cycle is a direct reflection of overconsumption for clothing styles that cause disastrous social and environmental effects in the long-run.
In our scramble for the hottest faux leather jacket or oversized T-shirt, the work put into the clothes worn on our backs never crosses the mind. Unbearable working hours, terribly low pay and extremely hazardous working conditions are just a few of the many issues.
In 2013, an eight-story Bangladeshi garment factory called Rana Plaza collapsed. Despite many structural warnings, the building owner stated it was safe and that all workers must return; otherwise, they would withhold pay. Consequently, the Rana Plaza crumbled by morning with thousands left inside. The majority of the workers employed at fashion factories like the Rana Plaza are young women who are often abused and exposed to toxins in the workplace, including inhaling poisonous chemicals emitted from the factory.
Fast fashion influences waste culture by cutting corners to mass-produce garments. The plethora of cheap clothing items causes people to view fashion as readily disposable. Consumers began buying more only to keep items for a short period before giving them away, leading to a large amount of clothing waste. Charity shops only take a small portion of clothes to be reused from the overwhelming amount of donations they receive. While the rest are dumped into the ocean, shipped abroad or incinerated — releasing toxins into the atmosphere. This process for eliminating an overabundance of fashion creates several environmental problems that have lasting adverse effects on the world.
Using data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Business Insider reported “The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the worlds water supply and pollutes the oceans with microplastics.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) identifies microplastics as “plastic debris less than five millimeters in length,” that never breakdown. In 2017, a report was released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 35% of microplastics found in the ocean come from washing synthetic textiles. When filtering the waterways, microfiber fragments that aren’t caught as sewage sludge end up in rivers and eventually, the sea.
About 20% of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry, and it creates 10% of the world/s carbon emissions. Clothing brands are associated with depositing hazardous waste into the environment and causing irreparable damage.
If the fast fashion trend continues, the damages affecting the world will only continue to worsen unless people cut back on the insatiable demand. Consumers can make a conscious choice to reuse the clothes they already own for more extended periods instead of purchasing more temporary items. Not contributing to fast fashion will lower rates of landfill pollution and contamination in waterways. Buying preowned and better quality brands is a wonderful alternative to trendy, cheap fast fashion. Thrifting has also become a new fun and eco-friendly way to refashion existing clothing into something more stylish without wasting other materials. These small choices in your daily life can ultimately have a positive impact on the world and force fashion brands to rethink how they operate.