by Chloe Sun ‘24
Published Feb. 25th 2021
Forever 21, H&M, Zara… All of these fashion brands are involved in a controversial business model known as “Fast Fashion.” To feed the public’s growing hunger for speed, convenience, and high-quality products, many fashion brands have adopted the principles of fast fashion into their company culture. However, how does this practice play out in real life?
Fast fashion is the practice of mass-producing trendy, runway fashion using cheap materials and labor. The result is a constant stream of ‘fresh and hot’ clothing for consumers to buy at lower costs, with new items arriving in stores almost daily. Fast fashion promotes cheap yet stylish clothing that is affordable and accessible to the majority, allowing high fashion to become available to even those of common status. Its popularity also means a wide variety of brands and styles for consumers to choose from, bridging the gap in fashion from person to person.
However, these benefits of fast fashion fail to outweigh the problems it brings: many of the fabrics used to make fast fashion, such as polyester, nylon, spandex, viscose…etc, are difficult to be disposed of or recycled of, making them extremely wasteful and toxic to the environment. The cheap dyes used for coloring are often harmful as well, and most of the chemicals utilized during production end up in rivers next to rural villages. To make matters worse, the average American now throws 80 lbs of clothes away per year, and despite efforts at donations, 87% of all textiles used in clothing are still either landfilled or incinerated, often around poor neighborhoods.
To this day, the fashion industry remains one of the most polluting industries in the world, creating around 10% of global CO2 emissions and an estimated 92 million tons of waste annually. While fast fashion may be appealing in both price and style at first glance, the grim pollution it brings is simply not worth it.
Readers, I only ask for you to reconsider where and how you buy or dispose of your clothes. When it is possible, you should always consider purchasing from local shops and thrift stores. Try holding on to your clothes for as long as possible, and consider giving old garments to family and friends. Remember: Reject fast fashion, and please do your part in preventing pollution.