Where do you normally shop for clothes? Online? In a shopping mall? For me, I usually shop at popular clothing franchises like H&M, Topshop, and all of the common brands you may often see in a mall. Yes, I know that I'm pretty basic. However, do you know what the truth behind buying clothes from these outlets is? Fret not, I’ll tell you what it is!
You probably don’t know this, but the moment you enter a fast-fashion store and purchase an item, you may be affecting the environment with your purchase. But how? And what is Fast Fashion?
‘Fast Fashion’ refers to cheaper clothing that is mass-produced by retailers in order to capture those current “trending” outfits found off the catwalk. Fast Fashion is highly harmful to the environment, due to how quickly the garments are mass-produced, used, and discarded, resulting in a dangerously high level of fabric pollution. This in turn, starts to rapidly fill up landfills with remnants of fabrics or garments of clothing which are then unable to bio-degrade, or take up to hundreds of years, depending on the material.
Photo by Stijn Dijkstra on Pexels
This will be you in 10 years if you don’t take what I’m saying seriously! The rubbish you could be walking on in the future, are your old outdated clothes, while you are wearing the latest arrivals in-store.
Shopping is not the issue; the issue is the mass production of clothes that are produced on a daily basis. The biggest damage that your shopping does is not to your wallet, but to our environment. Acetate, nylon, polyester, and rayon (the list goes on) are the most common man-made fabrics that are used. It’s probably found in some of your clothes, if you look at the small tag inside the shirt. Not only are they harmful to our skin, but during the process of producing them, many toxic byproducts are produced as well. Some might wonder where do they go? Are they Recycled? Nope, it usually gets disposed of at the nearest lake or bin.
“Can’t I just recycle them?”
Sadly, fast fashion is not recyclable. Just like plastic, they’re all made of non-organic materials that are non-bio-degradable. In the end, they will be piled up like a mountain or disposed of in a landfill.
“But what should I do?”
You can support ethical fashion. They focus mainly on producing clothes that maximize the benefits to the industry and society, while minimizing its impacts on the environment at the same time. Clothes that are made of organic cotton are also available. Focus more on brands that promote eco-friendliness, sustainability, and are organic.
In addition, many fast-fashion companies such as H&M, Forever 21, and Zara, often get reported for not paying, or paying extremely low wages to their employees. This is mainly due to the out-sourcing of mass production work to poverty-stricken countries, which then allows these big fast-fashion companies to exploit the people in that country for a lower production cost. Although some of the fast-fashion outlets may start to strive for sustainability, unfortunately, they are still violating their employees’ rights of earning a minimum wage and making a living.
"Clothing factory in Dongguan, China" by Edwin Lee (Fallout Media) is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Every time you buy something, ask yourself this question: Who is the person who might have made this? It’s an often-undermined truth, that most of our clothes are made in factories by people who are severely underpaid for the amount of work they do. Not only are they paid below minimum wage, we don’t know if they are working in a safe environment and if they are paid on time, or even paid at all.
With this, when purchasing organic-based clothing, you are also helping the environment. Organic cotton clothes do not involve the usage of harmful chemicals in its production, nor are any harmful chemicals used when growing organic cotton. Thus, there will be a significantly less negative impact on the environment.
After reading this, did this article effect your perception of fast fashion? What is your verdict?
By: Amanda Wong