Fast fashion: the future or falling of mankind?

Examples of fast fashion clothing inside from the popular store Forever 21.

Examples of fast fashion clothing inside from the popular store Forever 21.

Livia Shiroishi, Opinion Writer

Picture this: it’s midnight on a school day and instead of studying for that math test, you scroll through the troves of readily available clothing on the internet.

But do you ever stop to wonder where that cute top you got for 40% off came from? That “Made in Bangladesh” tag you gloss over in the store while finding your size has a deeper significance than you realize.

The readily available clothing present in your local retail store originates from harsh factory labor in developing countries. Some argue that the fashion industry has boosted third world countries’ economies through factories, but they neglect to mention the harmful consequences of these developments.

These same factories–or sweatshops as the US Department of Labor defines them–violate labor laws with harsh working conditions, unreasonable hours, low wages and child labor.

The workers of these sweatshops are mainly children who are forced to work instead of attending school; only to earn far less than a living wage and endanger themselves in the process.

Government officials and companies alike refuse to acknowledge the mistreatment and danger these workers are in. For instance, on April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed due to structural issues, killing at least 1,132 people and injuring over 2,500. 

The building was not properly built to sustain textile machinery, yet the government and the multiple companies linked to this factory carry on with production. The blatant neglect for human life and safety is just one of the many reasons why fast fashion is an immoral and detrimental part of our society.

According to the World Resources Institute, one garbage truck of clothing is burned in landfills every second of every day. Not only is the destruction of clothes unethical, but the production of most clothing is just the same. For instance, one pair of jeans produces nearly the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving over 80 miles in a car. 

The constant production of clothes in factories all over the world may not create a long lasting impression on fashion trends, but they do make an irreversible impression on our environment. Every item of clothing made with nonbiodegradable fabric sits in a landfill for hundreds of years after its time with society has run up. 

Sure, information about fast fashion may be interesting, but how exactly is the average citizen supposed to aid in this global issue after learning about it?

The fashion industry is one that serves the public customer first and foremost. In many regards, this provides a larger opportunity for individuals to impact the fashion industry by purchasing from sustainable brands, rewearing clothing and otherwise being a conscious consumer. 

Though these ideas may feel insignificant, often they create a ripple effect that impacts a larger pool than first seen.

For instance, more individuals investing in ethical brands such as Stella McCartney, Levi’s or Patagonia, bring in a higher profit and demand for those specific clothes. Not only does that aid those companies, but it also shows other companies that ethical production and selling of clothes is a valid option in today’s society.

As inhabitants of this world we have a responsibility to reverse, or at the very least begin to repair the damage we have cost our environment and ourselves.