Fast Fashion –Its Effects and How You are Contributing to It.

Damani Eason

Imagine this! You’re watching the Givenchy fashion show on YouTube and see a clothing item that you really like. You check to see the price of the item on their website and its way out of your price range. Just a week later, you see that SHEIN has the same item but now it’s in your price range and you buy it. This is just one of many examples of fast fashion that is presented throughout your daily lives.

The idea/concept of fast fashion first started being discussed during the late to early 1990s when brands no longer focused on making high quality clothing but focused more on making clothing that illuminated what was seen on fashion runways. It really took off when brands such as H&M, Zara and Topshop were able to quicky mass produce what was being seen on the runway for a cheaper price.

For most people, this would sound like a good idea finally being able to afford mock version of clothing that is shown on runways. However, the concepts and ideas of fast fashion have been known to cause harmful effects to the world but also to countries who must mass produce these products. 

In a meeting held in 2018 by the United Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), it was stated that, “[the fashion industry, which is a] $2.5 trillion-dollar industry is the second highest use of water worldwide, producing 20 percent of the global water waste.”  

It’s only an amount of time until this number increases due to the ever-changing concepts and ideas of fashion. 

The reason as to why fast fashion is polluting the waterways is because when clothing is being destroyed and/or put into waste, certain chemicals that are used to dye the pieces of fabric that used in clothing bleed into the waterways of countries. This heavily affects developing countries whose production companies don’t use their filtration systems which leads to the chemicals going straight into their waterways.

Source: IntechOpen. (2017): Challenges and treatment of microplastics in water 

Not only does the production of fast fashion items pollute the water that we consume, but it also affects the air that we breathe in daily. With companies constantly changing their inventory trying to illuminate what’s being shown on the runway, more and more consumers are buying new products to copy looks from the runway. When, it comes to the production and/or creation of  these products, they have been accumulating 2 to 8% of the world’s total global emission

Source: Eucalypso 

Not only has fast fashion caused an immense impact on our environment but it also impacted society. When it comes, to the items that are shipped from fast fashion companies such as H&MSHEIN and Forever 21, these companies tend to have their items made in factories that have workers that are underpaid and in harmful environments. 

There have been times when workers come forwards saying that they make as little as $2.77 per hours.  

That was the case with a worker that worked for FashionNova. Not only are these workers being underpaid or paid very little, but they also get verbally and physically abused by their bosses in these “sweatshops” and even must work in hazardous conditions. 

Several workers have come forward stating that their bosses have physically abused them when they weren’t working fast enough or not meeting the productivity quota. 

In 2017, a female worker in the H&M supplier factory in Bangalore accused her batch supervisor  of abusing her for not meeting the production targets. This female worker stated that her boss, threw her to the floor and even beat her, leaving her with marks across her chest. 

Source: Photograph: Shahzaib Akber/EPA

This story isn’t new or shocking when it comes to the treatment of people who are working in these types of environments. 

Fast fashion is affecting societies’ ecosystem and severely going against human rights. 

Most companies are now trying to become sustainable and no-longer encourage the ideas of fast fashion and mass production of several different lines. 

Companies such as Zarawho are a fast fashion brand, play on using organic cotton and pledged that 100% of their polyester will be recycled. Since, polyester is known to be a fabric that causes high emissions. 

Not only are companies trying to use more organic resources and trying to be more sustainable. But they are also planning to create recycling programs to help create a more sustainable environment. 

The next time, people shop at places like SHEIN, Forever 21, H&M, Boohoo, FashionNova, they should think about the environmental and society issues involved. 

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