Written By Joseph Bickel
What’s the deal with the fast fashion industry and why is it so important?
Many high schoolers love going to the mall or their favorite shopping place, but what they may not know, about where they shop, is that they could be harming the environment. Many popular fashion brands such as H&M and Forever 21 are considered fast fashion brands. You may be asking what’s the deal with fast fashion and why does that matter, or how does that affect me? Of course, let no-one say where to shop and spend money, but here are some things that may have you thinking about where you are going to shop next.
Many do not know the dangers of shopping from fast fashion brands. By not shopping at fast-fashion brands people’s lives would be saved. Many fast-fashion brands and even well-respected brands use sweatshops located in 3rd world countries. Recently a sweatshop in Bangladesh collapsed which was holding women and children who make articles of clothing for a brand from New York City. These buildings are terribly un-kept and are very unsuitable for any employees. Some may not even call them employees due to how much they make for every article of clothing produced. These workers are working 12 hours a day making only 0.60 cents per article of clothing.
Many are not even aware of the mass bleaching and dyeing pools located by the sweatshops as well. These giant pools of artificial dye and bleach have run-off that makes its way into the rivers and bodies of water near the pools. Many workers who work the bleaching pools contract many diseases or throat cancer due to breathing in the heavy chemicals for hours and hours every day. Fast fashion’s carbon footprint is bigger than any type of transportations carbon emissions. Clothing made from these types of factories is producing 1.2 billion tons of Carbon Dioxide every year. This emission of carbon is more than international flights and maritime shipping combined!
Now let’s talk about what the clothes are actually made out of. Many clothing brands used to use purely cotton blend or just cotton. Many brands have resorted to the cheaper and easier to produce artificial products of polyester. Polyester if you do not know, is a synthetic petroleum-based fiber, and is, therefore, a non-renewable carbon-intensive resource. Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make polyester around the world, which is now the most commonly used fiber in making clothes. Yes, you read that right, oil. By wearing polyester oil is laying and being absorbed into the skin. If we don’t want oil in the ocean or on animals, then why do we think it’s okay to put it on our skin?
Another question may be how long does polyester take to decompose? Polyester takes a long time to decompose, nearly 200 years or more! This means that when people throw away or discard their old clothes that are made from polyester, it is still emitting carbon and it will continue to for 200+ years. Now that’s a big footprint!
What can people do to help stop fast fashion from being so dirty and help clean up the environment? Simple! Go to thrift stores or second-hand stores to buy clothes. Don’t throw away or discard any old clothing that you don’t want anymore, donate it! Donating clothes can help keep the Earth clean and happy. Just because you find that piece of clothing old or it doesn’t have a use anymore, doesn’t mean someone else will. By donating old clothes instead of throwing them away people are decreasing the demand for more clothes from these fast fashion brands. By doing this, people are decreasing the number of clothes that are dumped in landfills. As of today, 1 garbage truck full of clothes are either dumped in a landfill or incinerated every second. Every second!! By having these clothes dumped or incinerated people are putting more chemicals into the atmosphere and into the ground, slowly killing the Earth!
With all this said, please look further into the brands you are wanting to purchase from. Don’t let all this information make you stressed or worried about your clothing options or the clothes you own now. Shopping shouldn’t be worrying or stressful for anyone. Next time use this information to persuade the next purchase and become more environmentally conscious. Don’t allow these brands to keep doing these dirty practices and profiting off of them. Many of them know what they are doing to the Earth. Treat the Earth as it should be. As this Earth is the only home we will ever have.