The hidden price of fast fashion

November 4, 2020


Photos provided by Isabella Batarse

Junior Isabella Batarse wears a beige trench coat from Zara, a Banana Republic sweater, H&M jean flare pants, and white Banana Republic ankle boots.

Purchasing that cute V-neck blouse from H&M comes with a price, and it’s not just the number on the tag. 

Clothing manufacturing consumes the second-largest amount of water, makes up 10 percent of carbon emissions and releases wasteful microplastics into the atmosphere. Low-quality clothing products contaminate the environment with a multitude of toxic synthetic chemicals. Garment workers receive below-minimum wages and are forced to work under life-threatening conditions and inhumane cruelty.

This is the reality of the fashion industry.

Fast fashion became a part of clothing businesses as early as the 1960s when consumers were constantly hit with the latest fashion trends at affordable prices. With the rapid progression of fashion, businesses balance the employment of hundreds of thousands of workers and low-quality material. As a result, problems arise.

Factory workers put their lives at risk in situations like the Rana Plaza collapse. Junior Anna Maag struggles to justify the inhumane conditions these workers face. 

“Problematically, these companies are still doing the same things because no action has really been done against them,” Maag said. “Except for the loss of some consumers, they’re still exploiting workers by making them work closely together, dropping prices even lower, dropping wages and creating harsher working conditions.”

Every product produced by the employees increases fast fashion company profits, creating a continuous cycle of harm to the environment. Senior Michelle Sun does not support fast fashion no matter how trendy the products are.

“I’ve definitely shied away from buying from fast fashion places,” Sun said. “In turn, if we created a unionized effort to not buy fast fashion, their production is definitely going to go down and mitigate some of the issues surrounding environmental problems and humanization.”

Junior Isabella Batarse said the products cause an excessive amount of pollution to the environment and a waste of money.

“I bought this super cute blouse from H&M, and after one wash, it was completely ruined,” Batarse said. “It’s forever wrinkled and I can’t get the wrinkles out. I feel as if it wasn’t worth the purchase for just one use.”

So, what’s the solution? Go thrift shopping with some friends. Buy from more sustainable, trustworthy clothing brands. Stress the topic of fast fashion to friends and family. The pathway to advocacy starts with awareness.

“With the issue of fast fashion, I think the more awareness that we raise, we can move on to the next step where we can organize and start creating a movement that puts an end to it,” Sun said.


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