How Cheap Clothing Hurts the World

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By Campbell Turner, Correspondent

You walk into a store and see the coolest top you’ve ever seen and you buy it excitedly, only to find out a few washes later that it’s completely trashed. Or maybe you decide you’re finally going to buy something trendy, but as soon as you go out and buy it, trends have changed and now you just look out of touch. If these sound familiar, you’ve been a victim of fast fashion.

“Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand,” according to fashion observer Good On You.. This sounds great at first, because unlike before where getting a dress for a night out was a special occasion that would cost around $80, getting a new dress can be a spur of the moment decision that costs $12. The problem with that sentence is the word “breakneck”.

The fashion industry is already in pretty hot water environmentally, “The production of polyester textiles alone emits about 706 million tons of greenhouse gases a year, and hundreds of gallons of water go into making a cotton garment” according to Vox. As if that wasn’t bad enough, fast fashion hurts the environment after its production as well.

Because of the speed with which they’re produced, fast fashion items often aren’t made very well, which results in people throwing them away. Sometimes the company will dispose of them too. Vox notes that “it’s common for fashion retailers across the price spectrum, from Louis Vuitton to Urban Outfitters, to destroy their inventory.” . This is often done by burning which releases tons of toxic chemicals into the air and makes fashion’s already large carbon footprint even larger.

In addition to being bad for the environment, they also hurt both the consumer and their workers.

For example, Vox states that “British people will spend up to 2.7 billion pounds sterling (about 3.7 billion USD) on clothes during the summer that’ll only be worn once”. That’s a ton of money to spend on something that won’t and often can’t be reworn at all.

As for workers, things aren’t great. For one, the majority of production takes place overseas. The Daily Telegram explains that“shifting American infrastructure overseas allows companies to avoid American taxes and child labor laws, and most of these workers live in dangerous working conditions with no benefits and low pay.”

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