Fast fashion may not seem all bad - for most people, it's an affordable option to keep up with trends that are constantly changing. However, some companies have gone so far that they are causing serious damage to their workers, the environment, and the economy. In this article, I'm going to go into a little more detail about how fast fashion's real effect as well as listing some other budget-friendly options!
Overseas industries exploit employees.
You've probably heard before that some countries employ children to produce goods for very little money while keeping them in poor working conditions. Children living in countries without child labor laws or laws that are poorly enforced have no other option but to work if their parents decide that they need an extra income. Only companies shady enough to produce such cheap knock-off items are also shady enough to hire children. Purchasing from companies like this keep them in business and their employees - children - will continue working there as long as they are open.
It has a terrible impact on the environment.
As mentioned above, fast fashion's main goal is to produce goods at the lowest cost possible. Companies like this are more likely to cut corners on environmental procedures. Companies dyeing their goods bright and vibrant colors is an example of the second largest water pollutant - textile dyeing. A lot of brands take steps to clean some of the toxins from the water after they have dyed their fabrics, but fast fashion companies do not!
Textile waste is another example. With cheaply made garments, it is easier to just throw away the item and buy something new when it rips, shrinks, or wears thin. Most people now have caught on to the idea of consignment shops and reselling old clothes, but if it is ripped or poor quality they won't buy it. Because recycling centers for fabrics/clothing items are extremely rare, for many people the only option is to just throw the clothes away.
Water pollutants and textile waste are among the most detrimental of the environmental effects, but they're not the only ones. These companies use a lot of plastic and other unenvironmentally friendly materials to ship their products and their factories emit a lot of smoke into the atmosphere! The fact of the matter is, fast fashion cannot spend the extra money or time practice basic environmental protection rules.
It hurts the brands that they copy.
A really popular example of this right now is the $12 fake Gucci belt that is being sold on Amazon right now. While that may sound like a good deal compared to the real belts that ring up for $350+, buying these cheap belts hurts the real designer.
Buying fake or knock-off products keeps the original designer/brand from making money off of their design because less and less people will spend money on the real belt now that there is such a cheap alternative. Keep in mind, this hurts the brands that are actually taking care of their employees and are taking better steps to ensure that they are not harming the environment during the production process.
This is also true for a lot of industries including handbags and clothing as well as makeup and perfumes. Be aware of what you're buying and where you are buying it from!
Other budget friendly ways to spend your money.
As harmful as it is, fast fashion industries are so popular due to their affordability and convenience. So to end this article I have made a list of other places to spend your money that are still affordable!
1. Support small/local businesses - Rather than trying to buy what is trendy and luxurious, go out to some local businesses to see what you can find! You will find some really unique and good quality pieces at these places while also promoting the economy. Doesn't that make you feel good?
2. Planet XChange/Plato's Closet - Planet XChange and Plato's Closet are great because they carry used real brand name items for low prices! This also helps eliminate textile waste, puts money back into the hands of the original buyer, and promotes the business of the consignment shop itself! Second-hand FTW.
3. Goodwill/Karm - These are great options if you like vintage pieces and are even more affordable than Planet XChange and Plato's.
4. Depop/Poshmark - This may be a better option if you don't have the patience of thrifting. With these apps, you can search specific items that you want and still get great deals because they have been pre-loved.
I recognize that completely cutting out fast fashion is difficult since it has become such a big part of today's shopping experience and are even popping up in malls. While I know the effects of fast fashion, I too find myself taking the cheap way out because I am a broke college student and it is so affordable and convenient. However, I highly encourage anyone interested in reading more about the effects of fast fashion and learn which brands are partaking in these terrible practices!