The Fight Against Fast Fashion, Explained


| LAST UPDATE 04/01/2022

By Peral Simons
Fast Fashion, H&M, Environment
Tim Boyle via Getty Images

On a global scale, 80 million new pieces of clothing are purchased each year. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 85% of the attire bought will end up as waste in landfills. This is said to be the result of Fast Fashion. Whether you're aware of it or not, it's believed to be one of the most significant issues in the fashion industry. But unfortunately, little has been done to alleviate it. Here's what to know about the ongoing drama...

The Regulatory Review describes Fast Fashion as "the speedy production of inexpensive clothing to keep up with rapidly changing fashion trends." With some brands producing up to twenty different collections in just one year, clothing is being produced at an unprecedented speed. Although this sounds great for us as consumers, who can guarantee we have great new pieces to style for every occasion, it turns out this isn't so great for those making the clothes. (And we haven't even mentioned the apparent environmental impacts of this.)

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If these Fast Fashion brands continue with their mass-producing ways, it is believed that greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 50% over the next ten years, according to reports. Researchers at Princeton University also worry about the extensive use of water involved in fashion production, which currently makes up one-tenth of the global industrial water consumption. To put things into perspective, it requires 10,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton.

Fast Fashion, Zara Environment
Xurxo Lobato/Cover via Getty Images

Socially, Fast Fashion seems to also call for many concerns. The outsourced cheaper labor from lower-income countries helps companies keep production costs low; however, it also results in dangerous and unhealthy working conditions for those employed. Currently, minimal policies are in place to stop these U.S. fashion brands, but change is on the horizon. In response to these issues, the New York Senate has introduced the New York Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act, which, if passed, would require retailers and manufacturers to publish their social and environmental policies online. Additionally, they would be mandated to enforce sustainable and ethical practices along their supply chains. This bill is a first for the U.S. fashion industry, which will finally be held accountable for its environmental and social impacts. Will we see a movement towards sustainable clothing? Stay tuned. 

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