Fast fashion as we all know is a movement in the fashion industry that characterizes itself as a mass production machine that is always scrambling to get on top of trends, producing a copious amount of clothes that are poorly made with cheap, toxic materials and most of them end up unused tossed into a landfill.
There are a lot of ethical issues and questions that arise for this particular topic.
It can’t all be terrible though, can it? The question of whether or not all fast fashion is unethical has become very common in recent times. Because of brands’ tendency of creating extremely “on-trend” clothing, it’s really hard to turn down some deals. This led most consumers, even us, to look for a milder approach to fast fashion and ask the question: “Is any fast fashion ethical, or is it all unethical?”
Is Any Fast Fashion Ethical?
STRAIGHT ANSWER: No, all fast fashion is UNETHICAL. There are a lot of nuances to this topic and conversation for example some companies may be taking some steps to become eco-friendly like using eco-conscious materials or reducing their carbon footprint, but they will still rely on low-cost labor and will let workers work in terrible working conditions, thus exploiting the labor or vice versa. Predominantly, “buzzword marketing” is used to make fast fashion brands appear more ethical, as most of the marketing (especially social media marketing) sees little to no moderation.
Fast Fashion’s Ethical Issues
Fast fashion has significantly impacted the planet, and you guessed right, it’s not a particularly positive one. Its consequences are felt both in the societal and environmental spheres.
We’ll recap them briefly, so stick around and keep reading.
Fast Fashion’s Impact On Society
Sadly, the most common ethical problem that almost all fast fashion companies continuously keep doing, even though they should be focusing on solving is the exploitation of workers.
Exploitation Of Workers
As we mentioned above and in previous articles, due to high demand by customers and never-ending new trends surfacing every few business days, fast fashion brands struggle to keep up with them and are continuously producing more and more new garments. And this all falls on the backs of the workers.
These brands are paying their workers such a low wage that most of them struggle to make ends meet and can’t feed themselves and their families. Not to mention the extensive work hours and horrible working conditions. Because fast fashion is based on trends there is a fluctuation in the demand for workers. So the workers are never sure whether they will have a stable job and income. These factories commonly known as sweatshops even employ children, thus breaking a lot of human rights and laws.
Fast Fashion’s Impact On The Environment
Fast fashion has had a very negative impact on the environment.
Today we will discuss about a few issues, starting off with energy and gasses:
Energy And Gasses
Because of the non-stop demand for new trendy clothes, these factories are always working and wasting so much electrical energy in the process. And thanks to that they’re emitting a lot of greenhouse gasses and carbon.
These factories are also wasting and polluting tons and tons of water all around the world. Due to them using cheap and toxic materials and dyes the water gets contaminated, thus leaving so many people without drinking water, and if it gets into waterways it can pollute lakes, seas, oceans, and rivers, which can lead to so many fatalities for both animals and plants.
It’s Harmful To Animals
Most of the fabrics and materials are very cheap and toxic and some contain microplastics that can turn into nanoplastics that are practically almost invisible to the naked human eye and can easily end up in some poor animal’s stomach whilst eating some waste thinking it’s food.
How Can We Combat Fast Fashion?
There are a lot of ways that we can do to at least slow down fast fashion. We as consumers have the power to sway the market forcing companies to appease customers.
- Repair and alter your clothes
- Second-hand shopping
- Sustainable fashion
- Slow fashion
Repair And Alter Your Clothes
If your clothes suddenly get ripped or a button comes off don’t throw them away, but alter them, and give them a new chance at life. And those clothes that cannot be repaired recycle them or use them as rags at home for cleaning and dusting.
Second-hand shopping is a more famous alternative to fast fashion. It helps with the reduction of textile waste and the clothes will have a new purpose to serve. There are a lot of thrift stores, vintage shops, and online stores where you can get second-hand and vintage clothes for a good deal. If you have clothes that you don’t use or wear anymore please donate them to these shops or give them to charities.
Sustainable fashion means clothes that are made from eco-friendly and organic materials obtained responsibly and they are made by companies that advocate for fair labor treatment and better working environments. These companies reuse their water, grow their own materials, and use non-toxic dyes so it doesn’t harm the environment and people.
Slow fashion is the complete opposite in every way to fast fashion. The garments are made from organic sustainable materials in smaller batches and sold in local shops or online. These clothes are definitely an investment, as they are meant to last a long time. That way we are saving money, helping the environment, and supporting independent designers and shop owners.
Fast Fashion is not ethical, no matter what stance we view. There will always be a way where it’s impacting something negatively whether it’s in the production process or with the materials.
The consequences of fast fashion can be felt and seen everywhere around us and they will only rise as we continue to stand by the sidelines and do nothing.
We need to start taking matters into our own hands because our future and the future of our grandchildren depend on us. We should always research the brands that we want to purchase clothes from, we need to pick more eco-friendly brands, and read the entire list of materials that were used in the making. We need to stand up for workers and to make sure their rights are being respected.
Even implementing one small change can make the world a better place and it can help the environment and the planet as a whole in the long run.