Fast Fashion: Far from your Fantasy


Sadie Mittendorf, Writer

If you walk into an H&M, Zara, or any other so-called fast fashion company, you will likely see the same thing: cheap designer-style clothing, racks full of the latest fashion trends, and seemingly unending piles of clothes. It may seem like a fantasy at first glance, but that fantasy quickly turns into a nightmare after discovering the environmental repercussions of the industry. Fast fashion, the industry that quickly produces affordable, trendy, and disposable clothing, is destroying the planet.


The fast fashion industry is built on the idea that all clothes are disposable. As a result of the growing popularity of fast fashion, people are keeping their clothes for short periods of time, but buying more clothes than ever before. In 2019, the average American bought 68 new pieces of clothing a year, yet only kept those clothes half as long as they did 20 years ago, as described by Hasan Minhaj in “The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion”, an episode of the Netflix series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. To put the waste of fast fashion in perspective, the UN Environment Programme states that “Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned.”


Arguably even worse for the environment, though, is the production of clothing sold in the fast fashion industry. Minhaj noted that “In 2015, textile production created more greenhouse gases than international flights and maritime shipping combined.” Clothing production also wastes a substantial amount of water. According to the UN Environment Programme, “Textile dying is also the second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.”


If the fast fashion industry doesn’t change soon, there will be irreversible consequences on the environment. Thankfully, it’s not hopeless. As seen in “The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion,” research shows you can reduce your carbon footprint by 30 percent for a garment when you wear it for only nine months longer. Additionally, if everyone bought one used item in 2019, it could save nearly 6 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equivalent to removing half a million cars off the road for a year.


The fast fashion industry is a crisis that has the potential to destroy the planet. Whether it be wearing clothes for longer, buying clothing secondhand, or avoiding buying from fast fashion companies, everyone has a part to play in saving the planet from the repercussions of fast fashion.