If you shop for clothes, chances are fast fashion is a regular part of your routine. Even if you’re not buying it, you’ve likely encountered it when you walk through the mall, scroll through your social media feeds, or search for a new outfit to shop for. Nowadays, finding cheap, trendy and brand new clothes is as easy as getting a cup of coffee. Some brands have been around for decades, and recently, some new, online-only retailers have taken over the space. What they all have in common is that they sell the top trends at the lowest prices.
While it may seem like a dream to have cheap clothing at our fingertips, fast fashion has a cost — and people and the planet are paying it. The clothes made by these companies are often made using globally exploited labor. It’s also made in large quantities with materials like plastic, which break down in our water systems. According to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported on Earth.org, from 2000 to 2015, clothing sales doubled to nearly 200 billion units a year, while the average amount of time clothing was worn fell 36 percent — meaning people are discarding clothing at a higher rate than ever before. The garments then end up in landfills or secondhand markets, where they affect both the health and livelihoods of the majority of local communities worldwide.
Simply put: fast fashion isn’t slowing down, and that’s a big problem for all of us. So, how did we get here and what can we do to stop it? Read on for more.