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The Detriments of Fast Fashion

The hidden truths of fast fashion are apparent in its name. As it implies, fast fashion is generally a result of temporary trends. By latching onto current trends in order to entice customers to buy more of their products, many companies quickly pump out clothes to the detriment of the environment. As past trends fade, people neglect their “outdated” clothes and create space for “trendier” clothes by tossing their old ones. Unfortunately, it’s not only the consumers; clothing companies do this as well. When certain clothes “don’t sell in stores or aren’t used by factories”, they are tossed into the landfill and this leads to a large accumulation of waste for an impermanent fad.

Arguably every aspect of the fast fashion industry is incredibly wasteful, but this is especially the case when it comes to water; it is the “second largest polluter of water” due to dyeing and finishing processes. Many textile dyeing factories are deliberately placed in areas with fewer environmental protection regulations, often overseas. This is an attempt by capitalistic companies to evade strict enforcement of such laws and gain access to sources of cheap labor. With the placement of factories in areas where environmental protection isn’t taken as seriously, there is no legislative body present to prevent the encroachment of untreated wastewater into ecosystems which endangers the lives of humans, other animals, and plants. And even in cases where the released wastewater is treated, it is never truly devoid of toxins.

Additionally, because the materials used to create clothes for fast fashion are cheap, they aren’t very durable. When these garments are washed, an alarming amount of microplastics are emitted into the environment and consumers often find themselves with tattered clothes after a few washes. Eventually, these clothes end up in landfill where they get incinerated, releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, and the cycle of supply and demand for more clothes continues.

After recognizing the issues with fast fashion, many individuals have tried to push for reforms to halt this detrimental industry. One of these methods has been implemented in France, where they will “require a label” on every piece of clothing “by the end of next year” in order to “[detail their] precise climate impact” and help consumers make wiser clothing decisions. In addition, governments are attempting to prevent greenwashing, a tactic that prompts individuals to buy certain clothes because they have falsely been marketed as “environmentally friendly”. This idea is prominent in Norway and Germany where they are “demanding that companies show they are working to identify and address any negative impacts on people and the planet that they may have contributed to”. If companies don’t comply, they could be fined and forced to face other consequences. This will prompt companies to improve as they will be essentially admitting to the ways they are harming the environment, negatively affecting their reputation in the long run


1) “There’s an Ugly Truth About Fast Fashion and the Environment” Jane Marsh

2) “Fast Fashion and its Environmental Impact” Earth.Org

3) “The New Laws Trying to Take the Anxiety Out of Shopping” The New York Times (


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