The Price of Fast Fashion

 

Fast fashion brands, such as Forever 21 and Zara, offer low quality clothing at an inexpensive price. With items like $3 tank tops, people end up buying an excess of what they don’t need and don’t want just because it is at a good price. Fast fashion has resulted in a 400 percent rise in clothing consumption in the U.S over the last two decades. These companies change the way consumers view fashion, making it into a disposable process. Each year, over 10 million tons of clothing in America ends up in landfills, which releases toxins into the ground. Often these textiles are non-biodegradable, and the environmental aftermath has affected people who live in areas exposed to the chemicals. Since the clothing is so inexpensive, the labor needs to be too, and workers are exploited to produce these low quality goods. Less than 2% of clothing from fast fashion companies are made in America, and overseas workers, mostly women, rarely make over $3 a day.

Human rights are often violated to meet the demand for cheap clothing. Most of the workers overseas are women, and in Bangladesh over 4 million are employed in this industry. Without unions, people have unsafe working conditions and nearly unlivable wages. In one case, over 1,000 workers died when an eight-story building collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2013. This particular factory produced goods for brands such as Accessorize, Monsoon, and Walmart. Pope Francis assessed the situation, scolding the industry for “not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit.” For companies to be making a profit off of a 4 dollar shirt, it appears there must be unethical labor behind it. A way to combat the exploitation of workers is to know where your clothing is coming from. A company called INDIGENOUS has embedded their bar codes to cite where the clothing was made, as well as its social impact on the workers who made it. Knowing what effect your clothes has on others would encourage fair treatment.

Environmental drawbacks to fast fashion affect the workers who have to work with the dangerous dyes and chemicals, and then live on the toxic land. But workers are not the only ones affected, because the same textiles that end up in our landfills waste natural resources. Millions of tons of coal and water are wasted on the production of garments.  According to the Council for Textile Recycling, 85% of clothes end up in the trash. The recycling process for textiles results in a very low quality material, and because the clothing produced by fast fashion is so cheap, the product that comes from recycling it is often unusable A way to make an impact is to donate and reuse clothing as much as possible. Shopping at thrift stores and consignment shops may seem like a small difference, but the average person throws away over 60 pounds of clothing per year. St. Luke’s dress code sale the the beginning of each year is a great way to recycle used clothing. Donating uniform items is worthwhile, because then instead of throwing away an oxford that doesn’t fit, another student is able to reuse it. Awareness of the footprint our shoes leave on the earth is the first step to a healthier, and happier, world.

-Mary Zech (Staff Writer)

 

Posted by on September 17, 2015. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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