Fast Fashion--an industry that is dedicated to replicating runway trends at an inhumane speed.
This very industry--including brands like Forever21, H&M, and Zara--harms the environment at massive levels. In less than twenty years, Americans have thrown out a staggering 14 million tons of clothes (this number averages at 80 pounds per person). These disregarded pieces sit in landfills and decompose where they emit toxic greenhouse gases into the air. Sometimes these chemicals can even leach out of the clothing before entering the groundwater system; burning clothes does little to help--incinerating these fabrics releases toxic chemicals directly into the air.
Many of the synthetic materials that fast fashion chains use, moreover, take thousands of years to biodegrade. Shockingly, if all of these tarnished fabrics were removed from landfills, the environmental impact would be the equivalent of taking 7.3 million cars off the road.
So, where do these depressing stats leave us?
Obviously, clothes are not going anywhere, and the brands that carry cost-effective products aren't going anywhere either. Luckily, there are brands that are taking initiative and trying to make the fashion industry more sustainable. Nike and H&M, for instance, are part of a movement called the "Make Fashion Circular" initiative. This organization implores fashion brands to use recycled fabrics to make new products. Other more expensive brands like Reformation are also using recycled fabrics; however, their products are a little more pricey than Forever21 and other similar brands.
At the end of the day, fast fashion is a business. The primary goal of these firms is to make a profit. Saving the environment, for example, can be equal-parts social responsibility and creating a competitive advantage over other similar brands. These statistics ultimately create an important choice for the consumer and serve as a reminder of our environmental footprint.