The Impact of Fast Fashion

The Impact of Fast Fashion: Let’s say you are planning a vacation or a business trip and it dawns on you that you will need to purchase a few articles of clothing that you don’t have. Chances are that when you make your purchase you are not thinking about the 3 trillion dollar fashion industry and its objective to maximize profits. But perhaps you have recognized the declining quality of clothing over the last few decades, assuming you have been on the planet that long.

Consumer desire for convenient, fast, inexpensive products is what drives many of the brands in the fashion industry. Mass brands push for more inventory, lower prices and higher quarterly returns, creating competition among manufacturers in countries such as India and Bangladesh – often at the expense of the workers who suffer in unsafe working conditions to earn less than $2 a day.

But what would happen if you took a moment to contem- plate questions such as, “Where do my clothes come from?” “Who makes them and what is his/her life like?” (More likely her, since nearly 85% of the factory workers are women). “What happens to my clothes when I am done with them?”

As with many consumer decisions, buying clothes makes you an integral part of a chain reaction of consequences that include environmental impact and disturbing social justice issues. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

1. Go for quality. Buy clothes that will last. Yes this will be more expensive up front, but the longer the usefulness of the product, the less the environmental impact. Are you aware that the fashion industry is second only to the oil industry when it comes to pollution?

2. Organize a clothing swap with friends. Set a date, have wine and snacks (that always motivates attendance) and ask friends to bring 5-10 items of clothing and shoes they no longer wear. Did you know that even if you are a thrift store donator, only a small fraction of what you donate ends up getting sold? Americans on average create 82 pounds of textile waste each year, much of it ending up in developing nations’ land lls.

3. Use your power as a consumer to support companies that are Fair Trade Certi ed such as Patagonia and Peo- ple Tree and/or Certi ed B Corporations such as Eileen Fisher and Indigenous. There are dozens of options for eco-friendly and sustainable fashion. Educate yourself by researching the companies you buy from and watching documentaries such as The True Cost or Jungle Sisters.

Mass brands have lowered the price of clothing for consum- ers, but at what cost? And as consumers, when did we start to settle for purchasing mediocre stuff? The decrease in quality of clothing and other consumer products has been a subtle change that may have gone unnoticed. But there are many people who are willing to pay a little more for quality products, shouldn’t it be the same for our clothing?


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