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Fast Fashion: The Trendy Enemy

Fast fashion, defined as the clothing industry’s method of producing cheap, trendy clothing quickly, is an increasingly prominent global phenomenon. While many consumers have turned a blind eye to this issue, they should consider giving it a second glance. Not only do major fast-fashion corporations such as Zara, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Guess, and Gap treat many of their workers in an inhumane manner, but their mass-production mantra also brings significant damage to the planet. While the cheap prices and trendy options available at many retailers draw customers in, the environment is already facing severe repercussions in the industry.

Fashion and clothing production is responsible for an estimated eight percent of global carbon emissions and claims ten to twenty percent of the world’s pesticide use. Not only is the production of cheap clothing impacting the environment, but how companies and consumers dispose of their unwanted clothing also has severe implications for the planet as a whole. The average American throws away a whopping 81 pounds of clothing annually and less than eleven percent of fashion brands are making an effort to recycle their products. The mentality among 33 percent of  United States women that an article of clothing is no longer “new” after one or two uses contributes to the issue. Even in the short term, three out of every five fast fashion items can be found residing in a landfill. 

Why then do consumers spend money on items they will only throw away as soon as they become out of style? They have no concept of where their old clothing ends up and they want to stay up with the latest trends. This allows the fashion industry to constantly boom as the environment crumbles. 

Companies that protect and support the environment include Patagonia, TOMS, Tentree Apparel, and many others. They have made steps to produce their clothes with reused and recyclable materials. Patagonia, for example, has imposed a 1% Earth tax on itself in order to put money towards reducing and bringing awareness to the climate crisis. Both their website and magazine boast a variety of environmental activism information and encourage purchasers to be kinder to the planet. 

Although some companies such as Patagonia are making steps in the right direction, far too many have made minimal efforts in helping the planet. By raising awareness and purchasing items from eco-friendly companies, consumers have the opportunity to support our planet and impact the fashion market for the better. 

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