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Fast Fashion - What it is and why its Bad

by Dana Andersen. Published Tue 28 Apr 2020 12:33, last updated: 01/05/20

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When you need a new dress for an event, want to try out that trend that you’re not sure on, or just want a bargain, where do you turn? For most people, we turn to fast fashion brands that promise a low priced item that we can wear, and dispose of, without worry.

Since 2000, we’ve seen around a 400% increase in demand for new clothing, meaning brands need to find faster, cheaper ways to create their products, in order to keep up with demand while still making a profit.

This is where fast fashion began. Its items of clothing, usually recent styles that are in demand, made quickly to keep up with competitors, without being particularly expected to last.

It’s cheap, usually due to the labour used in its creation, its low quality, again to keep the price down, and clothing that doesn’t last means people need to buy more. Best of all for these companies, fashion is constantly changing, so people are buying new item after new item. We’ve seen European fashion companies go from offering an average of 2 collections a year in 2000, to 5 in 2011.

The desire to make clothes for as little money as possible, as quickly as possible, has a ripple effect through the industry, ending with 77% of the UK’s 71 leading retailers believing there is a likelihood of ‘modern slavery’ being present at some stage in their supply chain. 90% of the clothing in the entire world, come from factories in low and middle income countries, such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam. These countries, amongst others, have also been implicated in child labour issues.

These workers often do not earn enough to afford their most basic needs, work in dangerous conditions that can include poor air quality or even building collapses, and with the majority of garment workers being women between the ages of 18 and 24, sexual harassment, or worse, from superiors is not uncommon.

Outside of the workers conditions there is also the environmental impact. Fashion produces one tenth of the worlds carbon emissions, uses huge amounts of freshwater, which is released directly into rivers and streams as a pollutant, and a toxic danger to local people.

All of that for 85% of textiles to go to the dump each year. Plus, thats not even taking into account the shipping of items bought online, or the plastic they’re usually packaged in.

Even if we decided to start keeping clothes for longer, and buying less from fast fashion brands, the clothing thats already been purchased releases approximately 500,000 tons of microfibres into the ocean each year through being washed.

Most of these are from polyester, thought to be found in over half of all products, which does not break down in the ocean. These micro plastics are thought to make up around 30% of all plastic pollution in the ocean. Its not only unsustainable to buy fast fashion, but also to continue using it, and thats only if the item is of a high enough quality to last multiple washes.

This leads to the fact that really, the only way to stop fast fashion is for people to stop buying it. We’ve seen the dangers, pollution and output of fast fashion only go up in previous years, and its only predicted to continue, making it all the more important to be aware of it, and maybe even stop participating.


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