Fast fashion: how we are slowly killing our earth by buying name brands

The clothes you wear are most likely destroying the environment when getting manufactured, wasting large amounts of water and carbon dioxide in the process of being created.

Fast fashion, according to Wayland High School French teacher Sara Langelier, is defined as “the trend of companies pushing out as many styles as possible, as quickly as possible and as cheaply as possible.”

“Often, the clothes are made in third world countries, where the workers are exploited and are often children who are paid very, very little,” Langelier said.

Globalization and similar processes are leading factors in driving fast fashion.

“Clothes aren’t made locally anymore,” Langelier said. “In the 1950s, a lot of the factories were here in the U.S., and it wasn’t as easy to produce clothes. Then factories started to be opened overseas, and it became a lot cheaper to have items of clothing produced, now produced for as little as pennies, allowing for fast fashion to be created.”

Fast fashion is fed by the growth of social media as well, allowing teenagers to see which trends are new and popular.

“I think teenagers in general like to follow trends, and then of course with social media, those trends are everywhere,” Langelier said. “You can’t escape them, and then you see people you follow, maybe celebrities, wearing these certain things, so I think that fuels the desire to update your wardrobe and buy into all the latest trends.”

The low prices provided by fast fashion can create a vicious cycle, causing people to expect unrealistically low prices because of the tags they see on clothes that were immorally created.

“We’re very used to, now, finding clothing so cheaply, that most likely is being manufactured abroad in a factory that doesn’t treat its workers well,” Langelier said.

Fast fashion is present within WHS with many students buying clothes from brands that do not pay their workers well.

“At our school, it is evident that most people try to keep up with trends and shop at such brands often and consistently,” senior and Green Team Leader Madeeha Syeda said.

Fast fashion is extremely damaging for the environment. Ten thousand liters of water are required to produce just one kilogram of cotton, as well as textile production releasing 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2 each year.

“Such a huge wastage of water occurs as a result of the fast and mass production of clothing that is made to keep up with worldly clothing trends,” Syeda said. “[Thousands of tons] of clothes end up in landfills each year as a result of the discarded clothing as soon as a type of clothing is not trendy anymore.“

Earlier in the year, the Green Team, a club at WHS dedicated to working on environmental issues within the school community, held an event showing other stylish alternatives to fast fashion including sewn, thrifted and refashioned clothes. Syeda has hopes for the fashion show’s continuation by future classes.

“[The fashion show] happened during Winter Week this year, and a sustainable fashion show has never been done before at the school,” Syeda said. “I hope that it can become a tradition to raise awareness about the fast fashion industry.”

Syeda also gave a few tips for how to shop while trying to avoid supporting fast fashion.

“Know which brands to shop from and which to not shop from,” Syeda said. “Do your research before you go to a name-brand store. Next, it is always better to buy second hand or thrift your clothes instead because this reduces the number of clothes that end up in landfills each year. Instead of getting new clothes every time a new trend comes up, you could invest in good quality staple pieces that you can wear all year round so as to not waste clothes every season.”

Sophomore Luisa Commettant enjoys buying second hand and finds it a good way to bring back older styles.

“[Thrifting is] a good way to take trends that might’ve gone out of style and revive them, or find pieces that don’t really go out of style,” Commettant said.

Syeda gave a one-sentence guide for the best ways to avoid supporting fast fashion.

“Reduce how much you shop, and when you do shop, invest in clothes that are going to last a long time,” Syeda said. “It is better for the environment and better for your wallet.”

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