How shopping for trendy clothes leaves a harmful footprint
Story by Sara Bonnoura • Photo by Vanessa Jones
Is your outfit getting out of style? Is it time to toss it in the trash? Not too fast…
We don’t think about where our clothes come from or what processes garments go through. “Fast fashion” refers to the phenomenon in the fashion industry where the production of clothes is expedited in order to get new trends in stores as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Fast fashion is advantageous for retailers because the constant introduction of new trends and products encourages buyers to frequently visit stores. However, this promotes a throw-away attitude among consumers because when a new trend is introduced, the old trend is immediately outdated.
According to the International Labor Organization, 170 million children around the world are currently working in the clothing industry. As a result of the high demand for cheap clothes, clothing factories in Cambodia employ girls as young as 12 years old. They work in dangerous conditions where companies are not required to adhere to safety laws.
Demanding new inventory every month means faster production time for workers. This nonstop manufacturing of clothing puts workers at risk of losing their job if they need time of for medical assistance or pregnancy.
Producing one cotton shirt requires 2,700 liters of water, according to the World Wildlife Organization. This is the same amount of water one person drinks in two and a half years. Twenty percent of industrial water pollution is due to garment manufacturing.
Consumer obsession with shopping and new trends is dangerous for both workers and the environment. Trends are short-lived—they last for an outfit or two and then are out of style.
Wear what you have until it’s worn out, and then spend your money on second-hand clothes to help charities instead of contributing to the harmful cycle of fast fashion.