The Forever 21 store in Highland Park on Aug. 16. (Los Angeles Times)
Cleveland Charter High School

Opinion: Avoid fast fashion to help the environment

The term “fast fashion” is one that is becoming more widely used amidst the recent flurries of environmental activism. 

According to Good on You, one of the world’s leading sources for fashion brand ratings, fast fashion can be defined as “cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.” 

There are many aspects of fast fashion that consumers find extremely attractive. The biggest selling point is the idea that you can purchase a trendy piece of clothing at a very low cost, which easily lures consumers into the trap of fast fashion. 

After all, why spend $35 on something you could buy for $7? Granted, the quality of the latter may not be as high as the former, but the incredibly low price seems to be enough to brush that factor aside. 

However, the reality of fast fashion proves that it is, indeed, too good to be true. 

The process of making cheap clothes so quickly involves practices that harm both the planet and those laboring in the garment factories.

According to Good on You, the fashion industry the second largest polluter of clean water globally after agriculture, using cheap, toxic textile dyes and polyester, which is derived from fossil fuels and ultimately contributes to global warming and ocean pollution. 

Furthermore, the fast-paced buying also means an equally fast-paced disposal of clothes, creating a tremendous amount of textile waste.

For example, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in 2015 alone, 8,240 thousands of U.S. tons of clothing and footwear was landfilled.

In addition to the alarming environmental costs, the production of fast fashion has even more devastating consequences on the factory workers who labor long hours in harsh conditions for very little pay.

They lack basic human rights and are exposed to many toxic chemicals that harm both their physical and mental health. 

There are many simple solutions you can easily implement into your everyday life.

One example is to do your research and evaluate the brands you most frequently shop at. If you can categorize them into fast fashion/unethical fashion, you should find sustainable brands to shop at instead. 

Another easy solution is thrifting, which has recently become extremely popular as a result of the vintage-inspired fashion trend.

In a way, thrifting is similar to fast fashion, as you can purchase many clothing items for a small price, but it is actually very environmentally friendly. 

However, many people shy away from thrifting because they consider it unsanitary and cannot trust clothes that have previously belonged to others. There is no denying that this is a very valid point, and one that many people worry about. 

But pushing aside all uncomfortableness aside, the reality is that there are many ways you can ensure your thrifted goods are sanitary and ready to wear.

For example, just like any new clothing item, you wash the thrifted clothes. If you are still hesitant, you can also put them in the dryer for a few minutes at high heat (making sure they are completely dry to avoid shrinkage) to ensure that there are no unwanted germs or bugs. 

Visit https://goodonyou.eco/ to check whether the brands you shop at are considered fast fashion, as well as learn more about sustainable and ethical fashion!

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