What is Fast Fashion - and Why is it Bad?
The term fast fashion describes the marketing and manufacturing method that rapidly produces huge volumes of cheaply made, often inexpensive clothing.
In the past, the fashion industry produced clothes for four seasons a year: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Now, fast fashion brands produce about 52 “micro-seasons” each year, churning out new styles every single week.
Yes, you read that correctly. New styles for every week of the year. The fashion industry anticipates we’ll make changes to our wardrobe as often as we take our recycling to the curb.
Why should we care, as consumers? It’s fun to try new styles all of the time, right?
Unfortunately, the overconsumption-driven fast fashion mindset has devastating and far reaching consequences.
An estimated 98% of garment workers are unable to provide for their basic needs. They are underpaid, forced to work long hours, exploited and abused. Their environments are often dangerous and unregulated. Some garments are created using toxic chemicals, and the factories are often structurally unsafe.
Not only is fast fashion incredibly harmful to the humans who make the clothes, it wreaks havoc on the environment. Toxic chemicals, dangerous dyes, and synthetic microplastics are often poured into the local water sources.
At the end of the short life of these fast fashion pieces, they sit in a landfill, where they rarely break down; instead, releasing toxins into the air.
So how do we do better?
- We can start by shopping our own closets before we grab another $5 tee shirt. Do you really need it? Is there something you already own that can work just as well?
- When shopping, consider this question: “Will I wear this 30 or more times?’ The longer a piece of clothing remains in use, the less demand we’re placing on manufacturers to produce more.
- Instead of buying new clothes, choose preowned. Purchasing clothes that are already in circulation lessens the demand for more new clothes. Thrift shops, consignment stores, and online resellers such as Poshmark and ThreadUp are great resources for fantastic pre-owned items. (And, as an added bonus, you’ll save a significant amount of money from the initial sticker price.)
- Choose fair trade, ethically made clothing. Use resources like Good on You and The Good Trade to find great brands.
- Ask “Who Made My Clothes?” If you don’t know whether a brand is operating ethically, send them an email to ask who makes their products.
At the end of the day, fast fashion harms our planet and many working in the industry. Join me as we explore sustainable, ethical ways to build your wardrobe - without breaking the bank - or the environment.