Environmental Issues and the Cost Of Fast Fashion

It may be tempting to snag those jeans at $29.99 off the shelf along with other tees only costing you $5.00 or less from major fashion retailers like H&M and Forever 21. Before you grab those clothes, take a step back and evaluate why these clothes are cheap in the first place. It is alarming at how quickly the “Fast Fashion” industry is growing each day, and it is doing nothing but harm to young children and the environment. According to Triple Pundit, “The average consumer now buys 60 percent more clothing items a year and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago. What that means is a huge volume of textile waste.” [1] Women also go through about 5 times as many clothing as men, due to our love of shopping. While it can be fun to shop, let's start to shop smarter and not cheaper for the health of planet earth.

What Exactly Does “Fast Fashion” Mean?

It simply means that fashion retailers are trying to capture the latest trends in the spring and autumn. Sometimes these trends happen during all of the seasons too, therefore there are a lot of clothes that need to be created in a short amount of time! The quick manufacture times and the cheap prices are a recipe for major pollution and waste when it is all said and done. Fast fashion is harmful, wasteful, and it usually is not of quality! 

What Are Some Environmental Issues From Manufacturing Cheap Clothing?

Polyester is one of the main fabrics used in fast fashion, and it is made from petroleum! These synthetic fibers are in high demand, and they are require an astronomical amount of crude oils and chemicals which get pumped into the atmosphere. Cotton is also a huge perpetrator of pollution, and according to NCBI, “This crop accounts for a quarter of all the pesticides used in the United States, the largest exporter of cotton in the world, according to the USDA.” [2] Polyester can take decades to decay which is rather alarming at best, and it’s carbon footprint is three times as harmful as cotton is (and cotton is no good either). All of these fibers are not only harmful to the environment but they are also scratchy and cheap feeling which in turn makes them wear out much faster. 

What To Do

Now that we know how harmful synthetic fibers and cheap clothing are to our world, what can be done about it? First as a consumer, be conscious about where you are buying your clothes. The more clothing that is purchased, the more they will need to make to meet the demand. Another way you can help reduce the waste is to simply take care of your clothing, so you do not have to purchase as often. Reuse and recycle is the last way you can make an impact in this ever so frustrating hamster wheel of a problem. This will cut down on waste in landfills, and it will reduce your eco-footprint in the process!

Consumers need to be wiser in what they are purchasing, and from where. On the other hand, companies need to reevaluate their strategy on mass production so it is not harming the environment. Making clothes at an alarming pace, for cheap may not be the best option when it is all said and done!





  1. https://www.triplepundit.com/2016/12/high-environmental-cost-fast-fashion/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1964887/

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