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Fast Fashion: What Is It and Why It Is a Problem?

By: Karis Fields


Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg Source


If you were one of the many people who participated in Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year, including the years before, chances are you probably bought at least one article of clothing from a fast fashion brand. Earth.org defines fast fashion as a term used to describe ‘cheap clothing which is rapidly produced in order to keep up with the latest trends’.


Many of the world’s most popular fashion brands, and stores, partake in fast fashion. Popular fast fashion brands include Shein, H&M, Boohoo, Forever21, Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle, and Old Navy.


As indicated in the title of this article, fast fashion is indeed a problem. But why exactly is that the case? After all, fast fashion produces mass quantities of clothes, which sell at very affordable prices...


The reason why clothes from fast fashion brands are so cheap to the general public is because the material used to produce them are more susceptible to wear and tear, often having incredibly short life spans. Because of the poor quality of these clothes, they are oftentimes quickly thrown out by the individuals who buy them. Once they are trashed, consumers then seek out and buy more, throwing themselves in a vicious cycle of buying and then throwing away again.


Now, this wouldn’t be as big of an issue if not for the fact that most of the time the material used is biodegradable and not sustainable. In the beginning of November this year, it was reported that the Atacama desert in Chile is being taken over by piles of unsold clothing from fast fashion brands. Statistics show that 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. When you wash certain pieces of fast fashion, it sends bits of plastic to various water sources, drying up and polluting rivers, streams, and oceans. Additionally, the production of fashion makes up an alarming 10% of global carbon emissions. In other words, not good at all.


An easy way to help alleviate this serious problem could be to switch to buying more sustainable fashion, also known as slow fashion. However, this brings up the same issue as trying to advise someone to switch to a plant-based diet. Although both of these solutions make the world we live in a more livable and healthy place, unfortunately not everyone will decide to make the switch. Whether that be for economic or personal reasons. In the end, this final, and increasingly important, decision lies in the hands of global consumers.


However, with the world, and especially Gen Z-ers, becoming more aware of the global climate crisis and the importance of sustainability, more people are starting to take closer proactive steps to bettering their environments. And perhaps it’s these people, who will put an end to, or at least find a more sustainable solution, to the detriments of fast fashion.