By Ryen Cinski ‘22
Cheap, trendy clothing can be enticing. Although I’ve never ordered from these websites myself, I find that I often scroll through Zaful, Romwe, Aliexpress, Boohoo,
Missguided and their counterparts. While these clothes may not be the best quality and can sometimes be very hit or miss, many people purchase them. Fast fashion can be described as mass-produced, quickly-made, cheap, trendy clothing. While this concept might seem great at first—quick, cheap, and easy—fast fashion is born out of poor working conditions and negative environmental impacts.
According to BWSS, or Battered Women’s Support Services, 1 in 6 people worldwide work in the garment district. 80 percent of them are women and 2 percent of them earn a living wage (BWSS). Behind each silk camisole and pair of cargo pants is a living, breathing person who is struggling to produce large numbers of these pieces. Individuals working for these companies are constantly exploited for clothes that will be used and disposed of quickly.
When considering the time it takes to produce fast fashion and the price of the clothing, it is no surprise that these clothes are often disposed of quickly. The phrase “you pay for what you get” holds true. Since so much cheap clothing is produced, purchased, and thrown away, it is clear that there must be a negative environmental impact. According to the EPA, or the Environmental Protection Agency, 11.2 million tons of textiles were received by landfills in 2017 (EPA). Since these numbers were produced, fast fashion has further grown and expanded.
Luckily, there are steps that can be taken to avoid fast fashion and disposing of mass amounts of clothing in general. Thrifting is an inexpensive and environmentally conscious option as thrifting is literally recycling your clothes. Just because you’re tired of that sweater doesn’t mean that someone else will be. I am guilty of getting tired of clothing, switching styles rapidly, and craving new clothes. I try my best to bring these clothes to a thrift store near me or to give them to friends, family, or those that I know are in need of them. Thrifting is a great option as it is inexpensive just like fast fashion.
While thrifting is a good way to purchase clothing, donating is an excellent way to dispose of unwanted items. While many of us are privileged enough to buy and dispose of large amounts of clothing, there are some people who cannot afford to put clothes on their backs at all. The money made from reselling your clothes on Poshmark or Mercari is enticing, and if you are in need of some extra funds, a great idea, but if you don’t need the extra cash, donating is the way to go. In donating your clothes, you could be saving a family the stress of not being able to purchase school clothes for their children. You could be saving a homeless individual from freezing on the street during a cold night.
Fast fashion is bad for a multitude of reasons. I of all people know that cheap, cute clothing is tempting; it is simply not sustainable though. Behind fast fashion is waste, pollution, and good people making an absurdly small amount of money for their hard work. Be good to the environment and be good to your fellow humans. Although talking so much about clothing seems trivial, it’s a good place to start and it’s something that many of us can change our habits in.