We live in a world where we can buy what we want when we want it. Everything is centered around newness. The latest trends, this seasons must-haves. We are all consumers, but when you stop and think about just how much we buy because we think that we need it, then we may just realize that we’re spending too much.
Fast fashion is a problem. Clothing has become so inexpensive from many retailers. As stores run the race for the lowest prices, it is easy for us as customers to get drawn along because an item is so cheap it almost a steal. But these cheap and easy clothing items come with a big price to the world as a whole. They are bad for the environment, they are often unethically produced, and they are also bad for your pocket.
Fighting The False Economy Of Fast Fashion
There are two things to consider when it comes to fast fashion items, and why they are bad for you as a consumer. Firstly, these mass-produced items are often very cheaply made and are of much poorer quality than many other products. This means that they are likely to wear out very quickly and end up needing replacing after only a few wears. Buying a good quality item that well designed is an investment. Take a look at a brand such as Casablanca clothing for example, while the prices are higher than fast fashion items, these products will last far longer. That means that over the lifespan of the products, a better-made item while being considerably more expensive will be more cost-effective as you won’t need to replace it constantly.
Secondly, fast-fashion constantly changes. Seasons and styles move very quickly, and retailers seek to fill their racks with as wide a range of clothing as possible. Often, the prices are so low that you will make an impulse purchase that you were not looking to make. You may not need the item, and you probably already own several others like it. But the price looked good, so you had to have it. Immediately you have wasted money on something that you did not need. Creating spending habits such as this are the ways that fast fashion grabs the consumer in. Over time, you will probably spend more on fast fashion items that you will barely wear, than you would on a single piece that would get worn a lot more.
Fast fashion promotes the idea that you need to wear a different dress for every event you go to because you cannot wear the same thing twice. Creating this social faux pas is one way to keep you consuming and buying these disposable fashion items.
The Environmental Impact Of Fast Fashion
There are many factors to consider when it comes to how fast fashion affects the environment. Consider the distance that the item will have travelled to get to you. Many of these items will have been produced in China and will have been transported across the planet to get to you. Now look around the stores, you will see racks and racks full of items that have been shipped from overseas.
The production of these items means over-farming to create the materials to make it. This means industrialized farming, which often needs land clearance, reducing the amount of C02 that can get processed by trees. The textile industry is one of the largest water polluters on the planet, and ramping up the demands for this type of pollution is already causing long-term lasting damage.
Then, when everything is designed to be thrown away, we end up with more waste in our landfill. This continual overproduction and disposal of items are causing very real problems in the world.
The Ethical Concerns
Your item may be very cheap when you consider though that the government will take a cut of that cost, the retailer will take the lion’s share, and before you know it the cost price is minuscule. That cost price will factor in shipping costs, factory running costs, and then eventually, somewhere down the line, the wages of the people who make it and the item. While there is clearly a vast economy of scale based on the production levels, wages in this industry are notoriously low and working conditions are dangerous and unhealthy. These near sweatshop conditions would seem barbaric if they existed in the west, but when the price is right, should we continue to promote this behaviour with our spending?