Every clothes shop you can find in your local shopping centre most likely falls under the Fast Fashion label. There used to be 4 fashion seasons a few years ago: summer, autumn, winter, and spring. Today there are 52 micro-seasons that every major fashion house has to create new collections for.
How do they do it? They outsource labour in developing countries, such as Bangladesh and China, where they pay pennies for manufacturing services, they use cheap and unsustainable materials to produce each item, and they copy independent designers' work instead of creating unique pieces. Simple as that!
Fast fashion is like fast food. It's cheap, unethical, and it's messing up the environment big time. Here are the main reasons why you should think again before buying a £5 top from Boohoo next time.
1. Fast fashion items have been made in unethical working conditions where factory workers slave away 14 hours per day, 7 days per week to earn a measly monthly wage equivalent to £25.
2. Factory buildings are unsafe to work at, which often causes fires and injuries. 2013 April marked one of the biggest incidents in the 21st century's sweatshop history - 1,134 workers died and more than 2,500 were injured at a Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Some of the companies that had their stock produced at the time of collapse were: United Colours of Benetton, Accessorize, Mango, and... of course, Primark.
3. Fast fashion companies turn a blind eye on ethics of child labour. There were more than 3 million active child labourers in Bangladesh in 2015. That's just not ok. Next time you get that Top Shop coat, check the label. If it says it's made in Bangladesh.. it's been most likely made by a 10 year old child.
4. Cheap toxic and carcinogenic chemicals are used to dye fabrics in big batches. We end up wearing the dyed garments, and water that's used in the colouring process ends up in rivers and oceans.
5. Pesticides used in spraying cotton end up in soil. Cotton industry covers 77 million acres of land in more than 80 countries. I mean.. that's a lot of chemicals to be absorbed by the earth which provides us with 'fresh' water and food! There can still be pesticide residues in your brand new cotton shirt up till you do a first wash. Ykes!
6. Speaking of cotton, you might want to sit down before you read this. According to WWF, it takes more than 20,000 liters (5,283 gallons) of water to produce just one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cotton, which roughly equals one T-shirt and a pair of jeans. How many clothing items do you buy every year? Do the calculations yourself and then think about the 21 century water crisis in Africa.
Although we all know that supply meets demand and as long as there's demand for cheap garments, fashion labels likeZara, Primark, HnM, Topshop, Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, Asos, Victoria's secret, GAP, Forever 21, Aldo, Urban Outfitters, Adidas, Nikeand literally hundreds more will continue doing what they do.
7. The majority of bags and shoes on high-street shop shelves are made of leather. Do I even need to get into ethics of that? According to PETA, more than 1 billion animals are slaughtered for leather every year.
8. Textile waste is a HUGE issue. 300, 000 tonnes of textile waste goes into landfill EACH YEAR! That's the same as 3750 planes filled up to the brim with unused fashion items.
9. Fast fashion paints an unrealistic image of how much things are worth. Do you really think that paying £5 for a dress can cover: designer's work, textile cost, labour, and logistics of that one item?
Here are my 9 points why fast fashion is messing everything up big time. Although we all know that supply meets demand and as long as there's demand for cheap garments, fashion labels like Zara, Primark, HnM, Topshop, Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, Asos, Victoria's secret, GAP, Forever 21, Aldo, Urban Outfitters, Adidas, Nike, and literally hundreds more will continue doing what they do.
So next time you're looking for a new outfit on high-street, think about it's true cost. Is it really worth it?