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WHAT’S SO WRONG WITH FAST FASHION?

Remember that fast fashion is a part of a broken system – but even if you have to buy it/have bought it before, just because it was produced in the fast fashion system, doesn’t mean you have to treat it as fast fashion. Look after it, wear it many, many times, and don’t be in a rush to replace it.)

Fast fashion, loose ethics: the real cost of cheap clothing
WHAT’S SO WRONG WITH FAST FASHION?

Let’s be clear right from the very start that is not in any way a judgement of you if you buy fast fashion because money is tight.
Cheap clothes can be a lifeline and this post is NOT aimed at you. Remember that fast fashion is a part of a broken system – but even if you have to buy it/have bought it before, just because it was produced in the fast fashion system, doesn’t mean you have to treat it as fast fashion. Look after it, wear it many, many times, and don’t be in a rush to replace it.)

But there will be people who can afford to shop elsewhere, who can afford to make more ethical choices, but who choose not to. If that’s you, then this post IS for you.
And please know that it comes from a place of compassion, concern for people and planet, and from a desire to spread the word about some of negative impacts fast fashion has on the environment and the people who make our clothes.

It’s no judgement on you if you didn’t know all the stats and figures I’m going to share. If you hadn’t reached the point yet where you’ve joined the dots between your choices and people and planet.
We can’t change what we don’t know.

I didn’t know until we spent out year buying nothing new. If you’d asked me before that point how my clothes were made, I would have said in a factory. I assumed it was all automated and done by machine.
If you’d asked me what my clothes were made from I would have said cotton, and assumed that was ok because it’s a plant, and therefore natural.

But during that year (and since), I’ve learned that:

  • The majority of our clothes are made by people, usually women (80% of garment workers are women) who are sat in often poorly lit factories in unsafe conditions, sewing the same seam on the same garments, day in, day out, hour after hour. For up to 18 hours a day. For far less than the living wage they need to be able to feed their family.
  • Some garment workers are children. Supply chains for the fast fashion brands are so complex and are sub-contracted so many times, that most of them wouldn’t know if there was child labor being used to make their garments.
  • Many of our modern clothes (especially fast fashion) are made from synthetic (oil based) fabrics. The oil needs to stay in the ground.
  • It takes over 2000L of water to make one t-shirt -that’s the same amount of water we drink in 3 years
  • All of the above impacts on garment workers and the planet are compounded by the speed with which we in the developed world consume fashion.
  • Clothing production doubled between 2002 and 2015
  • Globally we consume 80 billion pieces of clothing every year
  • We have enough clothing on the planet right now to clothe the next 6 generations of the human race (this is via Patrick Grant from Great British Sewing Bee)


I don’t think any of us wants that. But the problem is that’s not what we’re thinking about when we spot a cheap t-shirt, or we’re feeling a hacked off with lockdown and want things to feel more normal again and hit the shops.

The system is broken. And that’s not our fault. But one thing we can do (if we can afford to) is decide to step out of that very unjust, unfair, damaging system by making some different choices. Some more thoughtful choices.

Is your convenience and desire for a new cheap t-shirt, more important than the safety of garment workers (possibly children) and the future we’re creating for our kids?
That sounds very deep, a bit worthy, and not very (ish) but it is the reality we find ourselves in. It’s a hugely uncomfortable truth. And if we CAN afford to make different choices, we owe it people and planet to do so.

We can buy secondhand clothes to reduce the number of clothes that end up in the landfills every year. You can visit one of the thrift stores in Lebanon, TN if you want to shop for pre-love clothes.

By Steve Clark

Hi! I am Steve Clark, a marketing manager at a thrift store. I Have been working in the thrift store industry for the last five years.

2 replies on “WHAT’S SO WRONG WITH FAST FASHION?”

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