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Fast fashion harms environment

Fashion trends can be seen everywhere. In the past few decades, with trends becoming increasingly widespread, “fast fashion” has been introduced to the American consumer. Fast fashion, most recognizable at stores such as Forever 21, H&M, and Zara, allows consumers to cheaply purchase items following current seasonal trends. However, this inexpensive fashion movement comes at a hidden price.
Although fast fashion may seem like an economically and aesthetically smart plan, many who work for these industries are suffering. Most of the materials and labor used to create these products are outsourced, often coming from third world countries. Factories where the workers sew and produce these goods are often unclean and cramped. Many workers also have to deal with stress from bosses and coworkers, as they are often pressured to meet deadlines for consumers’ thirst for fast fashion.
The speedy nature of these trends causes an increase in the amount of waste produced from clothing. In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA stated that 84 percent of excess clothing was thrown away by consumers and companies. The creation and shipment of these clothes fast fashion’s disagreeable practices deemed itself the title of the “second dirtiest industry in the world” after the oil industry.
The outsourcing not only allows large companies to save money on materials and workers, but it also allows them to bypass several environmental protection laws. Each piece of clothing manufactured requires thousands of liters of water and several hazardous chemicals and dyes. Many consumers are oblivious to these faults, as they are not as publicized as other environmental hazards.
To combat these allegations, many companies such as Zara and H&M, have started eco-friendly fashion lines. They aim to reduce environmental impact their clothes create, and to make a more sustainable industry. These lines have allowed companies like H&M to lower their carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 56 percent since 2012.
Junior Kris Cuthbertson, a self-proclaimed fashion lover, detailed his experience with fast fashion in an interview with the ECHO.
“I think that stores like Zara, H&M, Forever21, and ASOS are great for people that dress according to current trends while shopping on a budget,” Cuthbertson said. “With the price cut there can also be a decline in quality but if [you] checks the tag for the materials that the clothing is made of, [you] can get the biggest bang for [your] buck.”
Cuthbertson noted his awareness of the poor quality of these clothes.
“Most polyesters and faux leathers/suedes will only last for that specific season. Fast fashion is best for impulse shopping,” said Cuthbertson. “I personally love fast fashion. After most seasons, stores flood the clearance sections with great products from the previous collections. It’s definitely worth the money when you know how to tell between great-decent quality and mediocre-low quality items.”
Fast fashion, along with other glorified consumer activities, often have secret, nasty, consequences affecting humans and the earth.

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