The Consequences of Fast Fashion by Martha Wilson, Davison High School
Fast fashion is a term for the industry in which clothing manufacturers produce fast and inexpensive clothes and other products. Within recent years, the fast fashion industry has seen a significant increase in consumption likely due to its online accessibility. What the consequences of this? And how can people find alternatives?
There are two main issues with fast fashion: the first being its environmental impacts. According to the BBC, the UK alone sent 235 million items of clothing to landfill last year and in 2015, the global fashion industry produced 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions. Oxfam also found that the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK each month, is greater than that of flying a plane around the world 900 times. Not only are carbon emissions having a negative impact on the environment, but the production of new clothes uses extreme amounts of water, plastic and other materials.
The second issue is the unethical production. Sweatshops are used by fast fashion brands to make clothing cheaply to allow for maximum profits. This, however, results in workers being paid below minimum wage, often not enough to support themselves and families. One study found approximately 85% of sweatshop workers are young women aged 15-25, and it is not uncommon to work a 70-hour week. Even in developing countries, around 250 million children aged 5 to 14 are working in sweatshops.
During the cost-of-living crisis, it’s unfair to expect people to completely boycott fast fashion, particularly as it is ingrained in the clothing industry as a whole. It can be very difficult to find ethically made clothes without spending an unrealistic amount of time and money.
Charlotte Lea said: “Since the beginning of this year I’ve tried to buy second-hand clothes from places like charity shops, vinted and depop. These are great to buy, sell or donate clothes and other products that may otherwise end up in landfill, for affordable prices, rather than spending lots of time and money looking for ethical alternatives to fast fashion. I feel that if a lot more people bought second hand, then we could move away from the fast fashion culture for buying clothes.”