Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2016
"How can this item be under $10? Where did this clothing come from?"
It may not have been a thought as you browsed through popular chain stores, such as Forever21 or Zara, but the answers are both shocking and concerning. Most consumers are not aware of the impact of fast fashion, and how it affects both our planet and the people making these garments. Luckily, it is easy to make the switch, while still looking stylish, and keeping your wallet happy.
To start off, what is fast fashion?
By definition, it describes any large corporation producing clothing and accessories at massive rates. By paying the workers less than minimum wage, using materials that were mass produced using chemicals, and not maintaining safe work environments for their employees, they easily make the list. Brands that have been revealed to use such practices include Forever 21, H&M, ZARA, Nike, and countless others. The prices are low, because the practices are low.
Factories that produce clothing have been around for many years, and have always been notorious for abusing workers and often using children to produce garments at a quicker rate. 97% of clothing is made overseas by people who are in need of employment, so they take any job they can.In reality it forces them to work like slaves without adequate compensation and forces them to work in environments that are constantly exposed to abuse and wrongful treatment. The employees will often work 14-16 hours daily, with short or no breaks. The repetitive hand and arm movements can cause premature arthritis and permanent disabilities. This is also becoming common in children and teenagers who work in the factories.
The truth is, most brands don’t even know who made their clothing.
The buildings are rarely inspected, and because of this, fires, building collapses, and spreading illness are common consequences. There have also been accounts of physical abuse, sexual assault, and verbal abuse. These events are becoming more common than we’d like to imagine; becoming one of the biggest factors for boycotting fast fashion brands.
The other biggest factor in fast fashion is the environment.
Cotton crops for huge corporations are laced with toxic chemicals to grow the plants bigger at a faster rate. The problem with this is that the clothing we wear can absorb into our bodies causing health issues long term. The workers and farmers have also experienced long term breathing problems and other major health concerns due to working so closely with the crops. Also, because the clothing does not last long, the average American will dispose of 82 pounds of textiles each year. This clothing generally ends up in the landfills, both polluting the earth and causing great waste of the resources on our planet.
But you can become part of the change!
It may seem like one person boycotting a company doesn’t make a difference, but it absolutely does. Companies run off supply and demand, and by voting with your money for what you believe in, their sales go down. Sharing the knowledge with your friends and online can greatly impact the number of people shopping ethically as well. The film ‘The True Cost’, available on Netflix, is an incredible documentary on how the fast fashion industry has impacted both the people on this planet and the environment we live in. You can have clothing swaps, visit thrift stores, consignment stores, such as us, and visit small boutiques in and around your city. You can also find a huge selection of environmentally friendly clothing online, that directly supports fair wages and treatment for workers. There is also a sweatshop free pledge you can take through Fashion Revolution to advocate for equal rights for workers and a greener planet. As consumers, we all have so much power to change the world. By saying ‘no’ to sweatshops and environment destruction, we say ‘yes’ to a happier planet, people, and wardrobe!
Written by: Audrey White