The fast fashion industry has an extremely dangerous impact on the environment. Fast-fashion retailers like Forever 21, H&M, and Shein sell trendy, low-quality clothing. These inexpensive made clothes quickly became popular due to their fashion and good price. The downside to fast fashion is its major impact on the environment.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 16.2 million tonnes of textile waste were generated in 2014. The EPA reports that only 2.62 million of this amount was recycled, 3.14 tonnes was burned for energy recovery and 10.46 million tonnes were sent to landfills. This problem must be addressed for the safety and well-being of our planet.
What is fast fashion? These are inexpensive mass-produced clothes adapted to the latest trends. These inexpensive clothes are made with unsustainable products and pollute the planet in various ways. Besides polluting the earth, garment workers receive unacceptable wages and are forced to work in horrible conditions.
Who makes these clothes? Garment workers are forced to work in horrible conditions and are not paid enough for their work. Clothing retailers take advantage of poor countries like China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia. The minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is $ 95 per month. The website, work.chron.com, reports that in the United States in 2017, the average salary was $ 3,714 per month.
We can stop this problem while saving the environment, supporting small businesses and helping people. We need to create small businesses like thrift stores or consignment stores that are suffering from the pandemic. Small businesses can have much better quality control than large brands. Giving clothes to those in need is also a great way to give outfits a second life. It’s much better for the world we live in. Look for consignment stores or thrift stores near you, where you can get cash or store credit. Find shelters near you that need donations or clothing.
You can also reuse clothes to prevent this problem from getting worse. Riding a bike with unworn clothes is a fun way to mix them up. Besides being better for the environment, the possibilities are endless! Find inspiration online!
What is the environmental impact? Fast fashion has a huge impact on the environment. Take the example of New York City; It is estimated that over 400 million pounds of undamaged clothing is thrown away each year. We must prevent textiles and clothing from filling our landfills. It is estimated that in 2017, 16.9 million tonnes of textile waste was dumped in landfills. To give you an idea, in less than 20 years the volume of clothes the average American has thrown away has doubled, and is likely to triple if we don’t stop this madness. 95% of all textile waste could have been given to the less fortunate or recycled, but now destroys our environment. Man-made fibers, such as plastics or nylons, do not break down as easily as natural fibers, such as cotton or wool. This leads to higher harmful emissions. Ten percent of all global carbon emissions come from the clothing industry.
Textile waste also impacts many of our water sources. According to Green America, more than 8,000 chemicals are used to transform raw materials into textiles. Industry uses around 43 million tonnes of chemicals to dye and process our clothes. Many aquatic creatures ingest tissue microfibers and disrupt the food chain. Pesticides from cotton growing, as well as dyes used in textile processing, end up in rivers. Our waters are polluted, killing more and more fish and marine life every year.
As you can see, fast fashion is horrible for our environment and we have to stop it. Take a stand with us and don’t buy fast fashion.
Here are other resources to consult:
Sophia Tommasi and Alexandra Casamassima are students at Howe-Manning School in Middleton.
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