Today, there’s an overwhelming amount of information about the negative effects fast-fashion chains and stores have on our planet. From the toxic chemicals used to make clothing to the massive volumes of garments that are produced, discarded and then landfilled every year. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to stop wearing those cheap t-shirts from Forever 21, or throw away your favorite pair of ripped jeans from Hollister. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why fast-fashion is good for you – as long as you know how to do it responsibly and sustainably so that it’s not detrimental to your health or the environment. Don’t give up on fast fashion... just do it right!
The Problem with Fast Fashion
First things first: let’s talk about what a problem fast fashion actually is. Fast fashion is the term used to describe the high turnover rate of clothing in the apparel and clothing manufacturing industries. It’s a rapidly growing (pun intended) market that’s valued at about $50 billion per year. This means that the majority of clothing brands and retailers produce and stock a large amount of seasonal styles for just a few months at a time – or even less. This is in contrast to the traditional fashion industry, which offers a much smaller selection of styles that are manufactured and distributed on a much longer timeline.
Knowing What to Look For and Where to Find It is Key
Before you go and buy 20 new pairs of pants and shirts in one shopping trip, you should know that not all fast fashion is created equal. That’s right – some fast-fashion companies are much better than others. For instance, H&M has improved its supply chain to create a more sustainable business model over the years. The company has even started using recycled materials, and they’ve reduced their carbon footprint by 40% through retrofitting their stores with energy-efficient LED lights. As for Uniqlo, the massive retailer has also made strides to produce more eco-friendly clothing that’s made with less water and less dyes. As well as that, their products are made with less energy, and the company has even planted one tree for every item of clothing sold.
The environmental benefits of fast fashion
One of the main issues with fast fashion is that the clothes are usually produced in places like Bangladesh and China – where working conditions are not always up to par. However, as the industry continues to grow, there’s been a rise in sustainable fast-fashion production facilities in countries in Central and South America. As well as that, the sheer volume of clothing being produced each year means that sustainable brands are able to create and distribute the same amount of products with fewer resources. This means that the carbon footprint of these brands is far less than that of their unsustainable counterparts. This has a hugely positive effect on the environment; more specifically, it means that less water is used at every stage of the manufacturing process.
Fast Fashion is Eco-Friendly (Sort of)
It’s important to note that while there are benefits to being an eco-friendly company, they are not necessarily eco-friendly. Sustainable fashion brands and retailers have implemented eco-friendly practices that allow them to survive over the long term. As we’ve discussed above, eco-friendly fast-fashion brands are able to produce their products in less resource-intensive ways. They use less water, fewer dyes, and sometimes even renewable energy. All of which means that these brands are far less harmful to the environment than their conventional counterparts. As we’ve already mentioned, the carbon footprint of sustainable fashion brands is much lower than that of traditional retailers. This is because eco-friendly companies usually produce smaller quantities of clothing. Plus, they source their materials in a more responsible way, which also means that they don’t use as many harmful dyes.
Fast Fashion Helps You Learn About Your Own Sense of Style and Identity
You’re probably wondering how a cheap pair of jeans and t-shirts have anything to do with developing your sense of identity and style. Well, it’s all about the type of clothes you choose to buy on a regular basis. As we mentioned above, fast-fashion companies produce a lot of seasonal clothing items that are available for a limited time. This means that you need to constantly update your wardrobe to have a nice variety of clothes. And it’s this need to constantly update that helps you understand what your own personal style is. You’ll start to notice that you don’t necessarily like all of the styles that you thought you did.
Fast Fashion is Good for Diversity
Although the clothing industry is something that we all participate in, there are still many aspects of it that are very exclusive and discriminatory. The garment industry is a place where men still make more money than women, and where ethnic minorities are often underrepresented. This is because many of the top-level executives in the fashion industry are almost always white men – and they’re typically the ones who decide what types of garments get produced the most. This lack of diversity in the fashion industry has a hugely negative effect on the environment, as well as on society as a whole. In terms of the environment, the lack of diversity results in more wasteful production because designers aren’t making their clothing items with a wide variety of people in mind. They’re making them for a very small portion of society: white, thin, able-bodied men. As a result, huge amounts of clothing items are discarded and end up in landfills every year.
So, Is Fast Fashion Good or Bad for the Environment?
This is the million-dollar question, right? Well, it depends on the sustainability of the individual brands and retailers that you choose to shop at. As we’ve discussed, there are many benefits to shopping at fast-fashion stores, as long as you know what to look for and where to find it. If you’re able to find eco-friendly brands, then you’ll be doing your part to help the environment. However, if you buy a bunch of cheap, disposable clothing items that have a very short lifespan, then you’re essentially just throwing your money away.
As you can see, there are many advantages to shopping at fast-fashion stores. However, if you want to do it in a way that’s better for the environment, then you need to be selective with which brands and retailers you shop at. You’ll be able to find plenty of brands that use eco-friendly materials and employ more diverse staff, and these are the ones that you should be shopping at. If you want to do your part to help the environment, then you need to be mindful of where you’re shopping and what you’re buying. You should be buying quality items that you plan to keep for a long time, and you should be investing in fewer items. If you do all of these things, then you can rest assured that your shopping habits aren’t harming the environment.