Fast fashion is a relatively new phenomenon in the industry that causes extensive damage to the planet, exploits workers, and harms animals. Here’s why it’s best to steer clear when you can.
The mass production of harmful materials makes the fashion industry the world’s second-largest contributor to air and water pollution.
The entire industry is part of a chain reaction that begins with toxic materials that shed microfibers and microplastics into water and air, causing harmful pollution to humans, animals and the entire ecosystem.
Wear Today, Send to Landfill Tomorrow
Because fast fashion is produced so quickly, trends change rapidly. When it’s time to trade in a new trend for the old, the lifecycle of a piece of clothing does not simply end.
According to the EPA, U.S. clothing waste amounted to 13 million tons in 2018. Up to 70% of that waste ended up in landfills rather than being recycled. This waste comes from both companies and individuals.
Clothes shopping used to be an occasional event—something that happened a few times a year when the seasons changed or when we outgrew what we had. But about 20 years ago, something changed. Clothes became cheaper, trend cycles sped up, and shopping became a hobby. Enter fast fashion and the global chains that now dominate our high streets and online shopping. But what is fast fashion? Why is fast fashion so bad? And how exactly does it impact people, the planet, and animals?
In the late 1990s and 2000s, low-cost fashion reached a peak. Online shopping took off, and fast-fashion retailers like H&M, Zara, and Topshop took over the high street. These brands took the looks and design elements from the top fashion houses and reproduced them quickly and cheaply. With everyone now able to shop for on-trend clothes whenever they wanted, it’s easy to understand how the phenomenon caught on.
Fast fashion’s impact on the planet is immense. The pressure to reduce costs and speed up production time means environmental corners are more likely to be cut. Fast fashion’s negative impact includes its use of cheap, toxic textile dyes—making the fashion industry the one of the largest polluters of clean water globally, right up there with agriculture. That’s why Greenpeace has been pressuring brands to remove dangerous chemicals from their supply chains through its detoxing fashion campaigns through the years.