Fast Fashion Killing Our Planet

As I scrolled through 5 dollar dresses and jeans, I couldn’t believe the amazing deals that were displayed all across my screen. $5 on a shirt never hurt anybody, I would say to myself. But it will. Fast fashion is a growing industry that has been killing our planet over the past couple of years. Clothing, in general, is known to damage our environment, but now fast fashion is causing even more environmental damage at a faster rate.

According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, 85% of garments end up in the dump, and because of fast fashion, the amount of clothing is multiplying every day. When these garments are sent to the dump, they decompose into toxic air pollutants like carbon dioxide and methane. Clothing from stores like H&M, Shein, Zaful, and Forever 21 are made masses with no regard to the idea of utilizing eco-friendly materials. The incredibly affordable prices and the wide variety of trendy clothing appeal to all different types of buyers. This is what is most dangerous in the fast fashion industry. People are willing to buy large amounts of this cheap clothing and will continuously revisit these sites when in need of something that doesn’t have to be of great quality and is super inexpensive. McKinsey & Company released a statement which claimed that since 2014, people have been purchasing 60% more clothing since 2000 and are utilizing the clothing for half as long.      

The best and fastest way to put an end to it is to continue spreading awareness. Over the summer the slogan “Boycott Shein” was displayed all over social media platforms. When people started researching their company, they found an abundance of issues such as the damage it has on the environment, the cruel treatment of the factory workers, as well as some questionable products they were selling on their site. Making the media aware of these issues reduces their income as well as other similar sites. 

To see how relevant this issue is and if other girls my age are aware of this issue, I conducted a poll. The poll observed 15 Virginia Beach girls between the ages of 16-18 that frequently used these fast fashion brands. The results I obtained were not as expected. The question prompted said, “Are you aware of how harmful stores like Shein, Forever 21, H&M, and Zaful are for our environment?” Eighty percent of the respondents were currently aware of this issue. This number stood out because fast fashion is apparently an issue that most girls my age do know about, even though I see most of them continuing to purchase from these sites. After receiving the respondents’ answers, they were given a follow-up question. This question was “After knowing how bad these brands are for our environment, would you purchase from them  again?” One hundred percent of the respondents said yes. Some were reluctant in their responses because they felt guilty contributing to one of the most harmful industries hurting our planet. To justify their decisions, most would comment on the cost of it all. Senior Carly Bartel exclaimed, “It’s cheaper, and I don’t want to spend a lot of money on clothes.” Which was a response that all of the girls would agree with. 

Senior, Charlotte Walsh, was “not at all” aware of the negative effects and has now changed her outlook on buying clothing from stores like these again. She stated, “ I would rather save my money for well-manufactured clothes than to contribute to the harmful effects that fast fashion is producing.” Charlotte’s new approach on wanting quality over quantity is how the world needs to start thinking if we want to resolve this issue anytime soon. Cape Henry teacher, Kristen Dodzik, was unaware of the fast fashion industry and how it was affecting our planet as well. After being informed, Mrs. Dodzik was very taken aback and decided that she too will begin trying to dissolve the problem. When asked if she would buy clothing from these clothing stores again she stated, “In all honesty, if I knew it was an item that I would use for a very long time, I would consider buying it. Where previously stores like H&M were a regular destination for me.” Although it is difficult to get people around the world to stop supporting these popular brands, the more people that are informed, the less they will purchase. This is an issue that is impossible to end at any given time. It is a long process. It takes one person at a time to be informed, alter their mindset, then continue spreading awareness.