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“Fast Fashion and the Fast Consequences”
The concept of fast fashion was created in the 1980’s and quickly rose in popularity in the 1990’s and 21st century. Fast fashion is the mass production of cheap clothes that are usually made to appeal to popular trends. Popular fast fashion brands include Zara, Forever 21, Fashion Nova, and H&M. Although fast fashion is more economically inclusive, it creates several humanitarian and environmental issues. The positive impact fast fashion has on consumers is temporary, while the impact it has on the environment and workers is permanent and devastating. Fast fashion is highly problematic, and should be sought out respectively.
As of 2022, over 60 million tons of clothes are made each year. To put this in perspective, a commercial cruise ship weighs 60,000 tons. The production of clothes made annually is equivalent to 1,000 commercial cruise ships. At least 12 million tons of clothes are wasted annually. Only 15% of these clothes are donated, while 85% are either burned or moved to landfills. Considering nearly one million tons of clothes are burned annually, this large quantity of carbon dioxide that is released has become detrimental to the atmosphere. However, this burning process is necessary because landfills cannot sustain the entirety of the waste generated from clothes. Which issues a new concern, the unsustainability of landfills. The most common fabric used in fast fashion companies is polyester. Polyester is not biodegradable and will remain in landfills for a very long time. This becomes an issue because if polyester clothing continues to be transported into landfills, landfills will quickly reach max capacity. Fast fashion companies heavily contribute to these environmental issues because a majority of their returned products are not resold and transported directly into landfills. In addition, unsold clothing will be torn and thrown in landfills to prevent the donation or use of the product without payment.
Adding on to the cons of fast fashion, fast fashion is notorious for using slave labor. Several women and children, especially in Asian countries, have been forced into the production line of fast fashion companies. Fast fashion companies do not take into consideration the safety, health, and quality of life of their employees. The workers are paid very little wages, and work a minimum of 12 hours per day. Many workers endure physical and emotional trauma that go unchecked. The conditions the workers endure are very hazardous. The facilities they work in are often enclosed and have little to no ventilation. This creates health issues because workers inhale toxins and other dangerous substances that are used in the production of the clothes. In addition, the proper safety precautions are not administered in the facilities. Consequently, injuries occur frequently among the workers, and are often not examined by medical professionals. Lastly, the management of the facilities are poorly supervised, and as a result regulators will verbally or physically abuse the workers if they are not meeting the production expectation.
Conclusively, fast fashion creates several issues to where it should only be purchased if necessary. Fast fashion only benefits the consumer and corporate owners, while having such a devastating impact on workers and the environment. Ultimately, purchasing clothing from fast fashion companies also means supporting the ethics and consequences of that company.
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