The Dark Side of Fast Fashion

If there’s anything the world craves for on a daily basis, that is fashion. With every new season, the shoppers are being pressured to buy new clothes in order to be in “trend” and to fuel this hunger several brands readily produce affordable, low quality, and disposable garments. As the next season approaches, these garments ultimately end up in the landfill. 

What is Fast Fashion? 

The term fast fashion refers to cheap quality mass produced clothing. The designs are based on styles seen on runways of fashion week. In short, fast fashion provides the customers with low quality dupes of high fashion clothing in exchange for a reasonable price. And because of the cheap quality, the clothes aren’t worn for a long period either and typically last no more than ten wearings. 

Environmental Impact

The fast fashion supply chain has created a global environmental justice dilemma over the years. A recent study shows that globally the consumption of new clothing is around 80 billion pieces per year. Hence, it’s quite evident that people are descending the clothes they bought the previous season without even wearing it once. 

Garment production requires a considerable amount of energy and resources. A study showed that the textile industry produces 1.2 million tons of CO2 per year which makes the fashion industry supply chain the third largest CO2 emitter. Not only does the widespread use of fast fashion contribute to air pollution, but it also produces gallons of wastewater. A study shows that 1.5 trillion liters of water are consumed in the garment production process. Furthermore, textile dyeing produces 20 percent of global wastewater, making the industry the second most polluting for water. After the usage, this wastewater is released directly into nearby rivers, which raises the risk of exposure to heavy metals for fishes and other creatures residing in the river as well as humans in the surrounding areas.

The disposal of the previously produced garments harm the environment too as every second enough clothes are either burned down or sent to landfills. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, wearable clothing worth $460 billion is thrown away annually and the Americans top the list as they throw away 80 pounds of clothing per year on average. 

Impact of Fast Fashion on Population 

90 percent of the world’s clothing is produced in low to middle-income countries like Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam among others. Each day, approximately 40 million workers endure excessive workload and below minimum wages to assemble garments. While the majority garment workers are young women, various countries implicated child labour including China, Brazil, and Argentina. These workers regularly breathe in dust due to the poor work environment. Therefore, they suffer from severe lung disease. Moreover, they work in accident prone factories, risking their lives every single day. 

How to Limit the Negative Impacts of Fast Fashion? 

There are several ways you can limit the negative impacts of fast fashion on the environment as well as human beings. For instance :

  1. Control impulse buying. Instead buy fewer clothes at a time. If you crave for a new trend or look, experiment and style your clothing differently. 
  1. Opt for a capsule wardrobe. In that way you’ll only have clothes that are everyday essentials. 
  1. Choose high-quality classic pieces so that you can wear them over and over again plus they never go out of style. 
  1. Shopping from thrift stores is a great alternative to fast fashion brands. 
  1. Don’t throw away clothes that you no longer wear. Rather donate them. 
  • Mohor Bhattacharjee 



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