Featured Image: Tomas Munita
Throughout 2020, infographics have been the new favourite method to deliver information for Instagram users. They’re clear, concise, and quick to digest, catching the eye with bright colours and bold fonts. A topic that infographics touch upon frequently is fast fashion.
Fast fashion is the rapid manufacturing of cheap clothes in bulk. The main appeal of it is that it always keeps in touch with the latest styles. But once the style is over, people tend to dispose of those clothes. Then they can hop onto the next one.
Each garment is made of sub-standard material, so there is little reason as to why the consumer should keep such an item liable to tearing or losing a button easily. This vicious cycle of buying and throwing has gone on to the point where there are entire landfills dedicated to piles of abandoned clothes. Their cheap and toxic dyes leak into our oceans and soils, poisoning fragile ecosystems and rendering them inhabitable. Microplastics, which are even present in clothes, are released from the (synthetic) fibers of clothes and mistaken for food by animals. The ingestion of such pollutants results in neurological and reproductive toxicity, and they also block digestive tracts — it’s no wonder fast fashion is the second-largest contributor to pollution.
Have you heard of sweatshops? People are forced to work for hours on end in horrible working conditions for wages that are barely enough to get them by. Workers range from the very young to the elderly. And this is all for big corporate companies who only care about profits for themselves. They are clearly violating hundreds of human rights acts but they ignore it because they’ve got us consumers eating out of their hands. With this inhumane practice, they are able to produce new clothes overnight in order to keep up with the latest trends. From cropped jackets to knit ensembles, they’ll have them lined up on racks worldwide before you can even say “fashion”.
The true nature of fast fashion has always been a subject that remains at the backs of our minds. We’re subconsciously aware of it, but the next time we see a cheap stack of clothes following the latest trend by a popular store or retail company, we’re already taking out our wallets.
It is our normalisation of fast fashion that keeps it going.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the resources to buy from truly sustainable clothing brands. They are crazy expensive and so few in number. And who can guarantee that such brands are 100% ethical as they claim to be? There have been multiple cases of brands providing misleading information about their environmental friendliness, which has led to the creation of a term called greenwashing.
Alternatives to Fast Fashion
Lifestyle and Fashion Tik-Tokers have been promoting thrift stores. Their purchases show us that we do not need to sacrifice morals for the sake of fashion. By buying from thrift stores, we would be decreasing the amount of textile waste and their corresponding pollutants that go into our natural environments. However, we must thrift responsibly and be conscious of those who depend on thrift stores for clothes and other necessities.
Going on shopping sprees at stores like H&M and Zara encourages fast fashion to work even faster. We must do our best to resist the temptation and buy only when we really need to.
And ask yourself a few questions before paying for an item: Do I really need this? Do I see myself wearing this more than once? Do I actually like the garment itself or is it just the label that’s compelling me to buy it?
Now here comes the main question of the day: how far are we willing to go to give up fast fashion? The choice is ours.