Put the brakes on “fast fashion” this season

Hannah Stumbaugh
Guest Contributor

GRAPHIC BY JULIO RODRIGUEZ | The Hudsonian Student Newspaper

Would you still enjoy wearing your trendy jacket or low-cost tank top if you had to sit down with the penniless person responsible for its creation or see the mounds of wasted fabric that were disposed of during its manufacturing?

According to the EPA, nearly 13.1 million tons of textiles are thrown away every year. Sustainable fashion stores, such as thrift shops, are attempting to put an end to wasteful and harmful fashion.

“Fast fashion” is the term for the cheap clothing that’s produced very quickly by big retailers to keep up with the latest trends. It’s meant to be bought, worn and discarded.

Although sustainable stores are not the norm, the number of thrift sales has rapidly increased within the past 10 years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, thrift and consignment store sales have increased by 50 percent since 2007.

While fast fashion has consumed malls, thrift stores have held their own in towns all over the United States. According to their website, there are over 1,497 Salvation Army locations across America.

The Salvation Army and Goodwill are two thrift stores that sell clothing, home goods, books and toys, among other things. These stores take donations from citizens and resell them. Prices tend to be extremely low in these stores, which is very appealing to customers on a budget.

According to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, resale businesses, like secondhand and vintage clothing stores, are the fastest growing segment of the retail industry.
Constantly evolving fashion trends are a major contributor to waste production in the fashion industry. Because trends are always changing, popular clothing chain stores must bring in new styles every season to keep their products in demand.

As many as 18 collections are released annually by stores like Forever21 and H&M. This quick turnover results in landfills being packed with countless “out-of-style” garments.

Many online stores produce clothing ethically, both by process and payment of workers. One clothing brand, Reformation, is becoming increasingly popular, with celebrities like Taylor Swift and Alexa Chung voicing their support.

Other similar brands are hugely impacting the takedown of wasteful fashion. The brands impacting the wasteful fashion movement include Alternative Apparel, Everlane and Pact. With every sale and endorsement, these brands are working to slowly change the fashion industry.

When Americans change their wardrobes to keep up with new collections, they throw away, on average, 82 pounds of textiles every year. Purchasing clothing and goods that have been gently used would greatly impact our environment.

About 1.47 million hectares of land are used to produce cotton each year, and cotton is used in 40 percent of current clothing. A hectare is equal to two acres.

Huge dangers have been linked to the production of cheaply made fabrics, such as polyester and nylon. The production of these fabrics causes 300 times more damage to the ozone layer than carbon dioxide. When these fibers break off from clothing in the washing machine, they end up in the ocean.

Fish eat these microplastics and then the fibers get ingested by humans when the fish who have consumed them are harvested for food. Not only is the Earth being affected by these practices, but humans are consuming the byproducts of these textiles.

As the industry’s wasteful and destructive processes are exposed, more and more people are making the conscious decision to purchase wisely.

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