Fast fashion puts up an appealing front of affordability, simplicity, accessibility, and convenience.
But when your daily cup of coffee costs more than your t-shirt, it should tip you off that something doesn’t add up. Even though many of us know about the terrors of the fast fashion industry, we are quick to dissociate from them. “It can’t be that bad,” we reassure ourselves.
Oh, but it is.
Here are some of the most shocking facts about the fast fashion industry to put things into perspective.
The fast fashion industry exploits its laborers like no other. Not only are they forced to work under harrowing conditions with minimum technological support, but they are also grossly underpaid for their work.
Forget living wage; most of these workers don’t even earn a minimum wage, according to surveys by Fashion Checker. Not only that, but the majority of the labor force are women from underdeveloped countries, where worker rights are non-existent.
Imagine working in substandard conditions for up to 14 hours a day and not even being able to feed your family. “Underpaid” is an understatement.
The fast fashion industry produces an estimate of 1,00,000,000,000 (100 billion) items of clothing each year.
The raw materials for all those clothes come from plants, which require a ton of water. That’s not even considering the processing stage, which utilizes hundreds (if not thousands) of gallons of water for just one item.
Consequently, the UN Alliance For Sustainable Fashion labels the fast fashion industry as the second-biggest consumer of water.
Not only does it over-consume water, but the fast fashion industry also pollutes the world’s natural water bodies with microplastics.
The fast fashion industry is dangerously reliant on synthetic fibers.
When you wash these synthetic clothes, they can release over 700,000 microplastics per wash. These microplastics easily evade wastewater treatment plants and eventually end up in the ocean.
This is why non-shedding, non-synthetic materials are the flag bearers of sustainable fashion brands such as Hemp and Hope. Clothing items made from natural fibers such as hemp, silk, and bamboo significantly reduce your microplastic waste.
It feels pretty good to take our clothes to recycling centers or when we purchase clothes from brands that claim to use recycled materials.
But these fast fashion brands aren’t telling you the whole truth.
In reality, these recycling programs are a facade to lure green-conscious consumers through greenwashing.
To some people, this fact may not seem that absurd. “Of course clothes don’t last long,” they’ll shrug it off. But the short lifespan of clothing items is just one of the many things that the fast fashion industry has incorrectly normalised.
When something costs as low as a $5 shirt, it’s going to be low quality— that’s a given. Not only that, but the low price will condition you to view clothes as easily disposable. After all, they’re cheap, and there’s certainly no shortage of them.
Alas, this is the mindset that justifies you throwing your clothes away after only a few wears.
We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. Over the years, the fast fashion industry has swept a lot of its dirt under the rug — but no more.
Before you make your next clothing purchase, think of everything you’re turning a blind eye to. All it takes is a little research to open your eyes to the shocking truths about the fast fashion industry.