Fashionably ethical: A dive into the downside of fast-fashion and how you can help

Fast fashion has taken the world by storm since the 1980s.

Companies like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M are all known for offering affordable, stylish clothing nationwide.

Millions of people flock to these stores in order to get great deals on pieces, looking fashionable while not breaking the bank.

There’s an underlying issue with this industry, however, that has negatively impacted disenfranchised groups worldwide.

Fast fashion companies utilize sweatshops and force their workers to operate under poor conditions, and to receive little to no money for their efforts.

These companies then make a huge profit, selling their items for more than 10 times what it costs to produce them.

Children are a huge part of these companies’ workforces and are subjected to harsh conditions and poor treatment.

Women make up the majority of sweatshop laborers, with approximately 80% being between the ages of 18 to 35.

Poorer countries are targeted by billion-dollar companies and are forced to rely on them in order to make a living.

These companies know these people are dependent on them for jobs, so they are able to make their own unfair rules and can operate how they wish.

There has been public outcry in recent years from mistreated workers, and theyhave rallied and protested together to make changes, especially in the Middle East.

50,000 women protested in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for their rights and were met with police force.

But it’s not just people who are suffering at the hands of these companies. The environment is too.

Fast fashion creates  massive amounts of waste, polluting the air and water.

The fashion industry pollutes the earth with plastics and fabrics and emits 10% of the world’s carbon pollution. 

Microfibers in synthetic fabrics end up in waterways, and are then consumed by fish and wildlife.

The effects of the fashion industry may be hard for the average person to see, but it’s important to acknowledge this very real issue.

We are all affected more than we know because the damage the fashion industry is creating will eventually lead to irreparable damage.

It’s important to look into the brands you buy from and  make sure that they only use sustainable materials and ethical means of production.

Thrift stores have also grown in popularity due to the public’s growing knowledge of the issues with fast fashion.

By buying secondhand items, pollution from clothing is being reduced, and there is no need for laborers to produce new items.

The easiest solution however is to shop less.

Buying only what you need will obviously reduce all of these negative effects of the fashion industry, and it will also help you save some money.

The fashion industry needs to be held accountable for its actions, and the power is in our hands.

by Katy Macklin


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