Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is not considered by many to be a sustainable way of providing consumers with clothing. This kind of fashion was noted as contributing to environmental degradation in a 2005 Greenpeace report, “Toxic Threads”. “Fast Fashion” refers to clothing that is made cheaply and is sold in high volume for very low prices. The problem with these kinds of garments is that they are not made to last. Outside hems are often finished like interior seams, low quality materials are employed, and low quality assembly techniques are employed. What this means is that these garments do not last and they get discarded and replaced with similar quality garments.

According to an NPR story by Jim Zarroli, investigating the world of fast fashion, “there's a growing public consensus that the mass production of so much cheap clothing is an enormous waste of resources such as fuel and water. While many people donate their clothing to charities and consignment shops, fast fashion tends to be so cheaply made that no one wants to buy it, she notes. Instead, it gets recycled into industrial rags and insulation, or even thrown out altogether — generating the term ‘landfill fashion.’” These discarded garments, filling up landfills, especially because many are made with chemicals and toxic processes, described on EcoMerge, are polluting the environment.

Because these garments, referred to as fast fashion, are made in such high quantities and discarded in such high quantities, toxins, which may be present in an insignificant amount in individual garments, can build up in the environment where they are manufactured and where they are discarded. In the 2005 Greenpeace report, NPE’s and chemical dyes are noted as being culprits in particular. Also noted are some clothing brands that are taking steps to reduce chemical discharge,“Six of these brands – the sportswear brands Puma, Nike, Adidas and Li-Ning, and the fashion brands H&M and C&A – are now collaborating on the further development and implementation of both their individual and collective implementation plans towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals”. Some of the brands listed as being culprits of fast fashion are Zara, PVH (Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger), Mango, GAP, Esprit, Metersbonwe, and Victoria’s Secret.

There are several steps that one can take to avoid the environmental degradation caused by fast fashion. Make do and mend; since many fast fashion garments are constructed poorly, they may require mending to wear out fabric that could otherwise last decades. Don’t throw away old clothes, garments can be shared with friends and relatives, and handed down to siblings. Old clothing can also be donated to charitable organizations or sold or traded at thrift stores. Garments can be purchased that are built to last, made with good fabric, finished hems, and finished interior seams, and they can be taken care of in order to extend their lifetime.
NPR article - Jim Zarroli, In Trendy World Of Fast Fashion, Styles Aren't Made To Last

Greenpeace - Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch Up