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Fast fashion is a term that describes the trend of clothes being made in low-cost, quick ways and then sold at affordable prices.
When we buy these clothes, we are contributing to the demand for more products to be produced—which means less sustainable manufacturing practices and lower quality fabrics.
Here are three different ways that fast fashion has damaged the environment so you can make smarter choices when shopping:
Fast fashion requires more resources.
Fast fashion is made with synthetic materials that polluting factories produce. Lower quality fabrics require more dyeing, which consumes even more water—this means less water for other uses, like drinking or irrigation. The need to produce clothing in large volumes also creates a huge amount of waste because it’s impossible to use leftover fabric. The process of making clothing in fast fashion production is also damaging because it uses harsh chemicals and low-quality dyes, which pollute the air more than a slower, higher-quality textile manufacturer would.
Fast fashion costs more.
The lower quality and the quick production of fast fashion means that it’s not going to last for as long as high-quality, well-made garments, meaning you’ll need to buy clothes again sooner. And because these clothes are cheaper than, say, Goodwill or thrift store clothing items, they will end up being more expensive in the long run. Fast fashion is also a huge industry, and it’s estimated that we’ll spend around $40 billion on clothing this year—which ends up costing more because of all the resources needed to produce these clothes, as well as their quick-wear factor.
Fast fashion hurts the people who make it.
The production of fast fashion is considered low-skilled work. There isn’t much concern for workers’ rights; they are subject to harsh working conditions including, long hours in unsafe environments that expose them to chemicals without protection or fair wages. The lack of oversight also means the clothes made in these factories are often made with child labor. The fast fashion cycle also means that workers will repeatedly work on the same garment, meaning they don’t get to work on new projects, which is discouraging for their creativity.