An Introduction to Fast Fashion

Since the 1990’s, many popular clothing companies such as Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 have begun to take part in the infamous trend, known as “Fast Fashion.”

What is Fast Fashion?

The fashion industry and its impact on the environment has become an increasingly larger problem.  Every year the world as a whole consumes more than 80 billion items of clothing, and these clothes will eventually play a large role in resource and waste pollution. People are consuming more and they want it for cheaper prices; companies producing these cheap items (who make large profits) want the clothes as fast as possible, this creates a trend called fast fashion. The idea is that fast mass production will require the use of cheap labor, which makes the cost of the clothing cheaper. The cheaper the item is, the larger success it will have from the buyers, ultimately maintaining the companies’ economic status.

The very concept produces a cycle filled with negative outcomes, starting from the way the clothing is made, all the way to it’s disposal. Fast Fashion goes hand in hand with the idea of cheap labor. Since the basis of fast fashion is essentially creating clothing that lasts a few weeks and even fewer wears, companies need to constantly be ready with new designs, for the factories to quickly produce. Speedy mass production and cheap labor makes clothes cheaper for the customers, thus promoting the brand even further and leading to more economic success. The constant need to produce more and more clothing results in factories producing even more waste, which will eventually be disposed of in even more harmful ways. Only ⅕ of discarded clothing and waste products will be recycled, while the remaining 80% goes to waste disposal streams. From there, 70% goes to landfills and 30% gets incinerated. With landfills filling up, there is only so much space Earth can provide for trash disposal, and overtime new forms of disposal must be discovered. Incinerators cause more air pollution than the factories do, and together it hurts the atmosphere and Earth’s ozone layer. To keep up with the constantly changing trends, people have begun buying clothing more regularly than necessary.  The average person in 2014 owned 60% more clothing items compared to the average consumer in 2000, while wearing the clothing for half as long. Americans bought five times the amount of clothes in 2014 as they did in 1980. Newer clothes, made with less expensive and short lived material, leads to only being able to wear those clothes a couple times before being forced to replace them. Waste numbers will keep building, and the cycle will continue to harm the planet.

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