Why is “Fast Fashion” So Harmful?


Photo by Creative Commons

By limiting your purchases of clothing that is considered “fast fashion” you can actually move to improve our environment.

Fast Fashion is “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” And it’s destroying our planet.

All your favorite brands like Forever 21, Shein, H&M, and so many more are harming the environment due to the massive carbon footprint created when manufacturing their products. 

Shopping for clothes used to be different. There were four seasons; fall, winter, spring, and summer. People would save up their hard-earned money, take a trip to the store, and buy clothing they truly loved and, for the most part, they were going to hang onto those items for several years. Shopping was an event and the clothes you bought where going be used with purpose and care. 

Today, anyone can buy anything in just a few clicks. People want their products quick and cheap, so they ignore the quality of the items they’re purchasing. 

Fast fashion isn’t only bad for the environment but also for the workers. Most companies are guilty of using sweatshops and treating their employees poorly with low wages and long hours. As the clothes get cheaper, the working conditions get worse. These clothing brands go to the lowest bidding factory overseas and exploit poverty stricken areas. 

On top of that, fast fashion is quickly destroying our planet. In her article, Elizabeth Cline cites the stat that fiber production now takes roughly 145 million tons of coal and between 1.5 and 2 trillion gallons of water.

 The Huffington Post reports that the average American throws out 68 pounds of textiles per year — not donates or consigns, straight-up throws them in the trash. This is a huge waste and none of these textiles are being recycled, just thrown out and put to no good use. 

Ways to avoid fast fashion:

  • Buy second hand clothes- thrifting can be a great alternative to buying fast fashion because you can buy it for the same price and find better quality items. 
  • Ask “Who made my clothes?”- many of the brands you shop at are fast fashion and you would never assume it. Try and be more conscious when purchasing items and think about the conditions they were made under. 
  • Be sure before buying something you will wear it at least 15 times in the first year of your purchase. 
  • Buy less and better quality- only buy things that will last and be in your closet for a significant amount of time. Don’t buy stuff just to wear twice and throw it out when your done. 

Brands that are sustainable (not fast fashion):




Brands that are surprisingly fast fashion :

  • Boohoo
  • Zara
  • Forever 21
  • Romwe
  • Charlotte Russe 
  • Fashion Nova
  • H&M
  • Nasty Gal
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Pretty Little Thing
  • Gap 

If more people made the conscious decision to lower their fast fashion footprint, so much good for the planet will come from it. Everyone should start to try thinking and shopping sustainably.