Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Fast fashion: cheap yet deadly cost

By Victoria Campbell

 

Fast fashion is affordable and trendy, but would you continue to buy from it if you knew the cost that had to be paid? 

Some of your very own favorite brands might be considered fast fashion, including Shein, H&M, GAP, Fashion Nova, Primark, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Temu and Victoria’s Secret. Behind the trendy and affordable clothing are garment factories, where charity organization The World Counts reports children work 14 hours a day and range from under the age of 18 years old.

Due to producing affordable clothing, factories are in unacceptable conditions and workers are underpaid, overworked, and exploited just so millions can buy clothing for an affordable price. In the United States, 40 percent of consumers have bought from fast fashion retailers like Temu in the last 12 months and with the popularity of the website, it is expected to rise. 

Sweatshops and garment factories are nothing new; they have been around for decades but were not heavily covered by the media. Most manufacturing shops are located in China, India and Bangladesh. As told by South China Morning, Bangladesh workers make 33 cents an hour, and as uncovered by the Guardian, in sweatshops in India, the average rate is 58 cents. So not only are the workers overworked but are not making a liveable wage. There is little to no government control, so these young children are working in an unsafe and unhygienic workspace. 

While the fast fashion industry looks appealing from the outside, it is slowly destroying the Earth and its forests, polluting soil, water, and air and impacting workers’ health. Reporter Sufana Noorwez revealed that Shein leaves roughly 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. While this has not been a crisis yet, would you continue to risk it to have affordable quality clothing?

Earthday.org reports that overall, the fashion industry produces 150 billion clothing pieces a year, and 40 million of them end up in landfills, which continue to pollute the air quality.

Due to the quality of the clothing, you would be buying more clothes than not.  If you spend a little more on sustainable brands, like Reformation, the clothing will last much longer, due to its quality which will decrease the amount of clothing that ends up in these landfills that are polluting the environment. 

Sustainable brands such as Reformation, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and many others, help reduce the amount of waste produced, use natural resources and help protect the environment. If fast fashion is stopped, it could help consumption due to you not having to buy as much. It will decrease the amount of water used. A study conducted at York University reported fast fashion alone uses roughly 79 trillion liters which equals out to around 20% of industrial wastewater.

The consequences of fast fashion are on the horizon. If not limited, it could have dire results. Is it worth it to you to continue to buy from children being forced into long days, little pay, unsafe conditions and no way out so you could purchase clothing for an affordable price? While yes, it does not affect you, it could negatively impact the environment in the long run with all the pollution it causes. 

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