How You Can Help Stop Fast Fashion

Fast Fashion is a huge contributor to the worlds landfills but there's many ways you can help stop billions of pounds of clothing from ending up in the trash
Fast Fashion
Image Source: Welt

What Exactly is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion typically refers to a brand that uses products that aren’t recycled and have a wide, fast-changing variety of clothing. The fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to waste production.

 The funny thing is, there’s plenty of places to shop that aren’t considered fast fashion. There are also ways you as the everyday consumer can stop contributing to the spread of fast fashion. 

How to spot Fast Fashion?

 The best way to spot a place that contributes to fast fashion is by watching the prices and how quickly what’re available changes. They sell cheap clothing that changes quickly to adapt to trends. For example, Forever 21 is one of the more popular ones people tend to think of.

 Fast fashion has a certain sort of trickle-down effect. It starts with having to create new materials, like fabric and fasteners. They have to first source these materials, which typically tend to be made of cheap sources like plastics. They usually use cheap labor, often overseas to put the piece together. Then it’s shipped and often sold at low prices in stores with a wide range of locations. 

 Because it stems from trends, it can quickly move from catwalk to store and then out of style within as little as a few months. Think about trends from a few years ago. You don’t see nearly as many chokers and cut-out shoulder tops as you did in 2016. Where did they go? Many were thrown out or they were donated and then later thrown out. It drives a consumer to believe that clothing is meant for a limited time and not meant to last forever. 

 It’s very poor for the environment, between the product materials and the worldwide shipping. It’s one of the largest contributors to landfills. In fact, New York state tosses over a billion pounds of clothing every year.

NERC, or the Northeast Recycling Company, is a recycling agency out of Vermont that sees the effect of fast fashion. They describe it as,

"Textiles are the second largest polluting industry in the world after oil and gas. Pesticides used to grow cotton, toxics in dyes, and energy-intensive manufacturing creates a whopping impact on the environment and public health...Eighty-three percent of used textiles are disposed of in the garbage, even though the majority of these items can be donated for reuse and recycling. Even items that are worn and torn can be reused as rags and insulation."

How can we help stop Fast Fashion?

There’s a number of ways you can stop contributing to fast fashion:

1. Donate Your Clothing

Donating your clothing saves it from the trash and therefore, from the landfills. This is also great for the community, for those who can’t afford brand new clothing all the time. There are both consignment shops that’ll pay for your used clothing and thrift stores in poorer communities where you can donate your clothing. Plato’s Closet and the Salvation Army are examples of each. 

2. Find Places That Sell Sustainable Products

There are companies all over the place that pride themselves on their sustainability. They often use recycled materials to create their clothing. Even better, their often small business. Etsy is filled with people who make cute, sustainable clothing right in their homes. 

3. Try Thrifting

After you donate your own clothing, maybe look around. Thrift stores are great when you need something like a black shirt or work clothes. They sell lots at low prices. There’s even Goodwill Outlet Stores that sell shoes, clothing, and accessories by the pound. Sometimes, you can even find some stuff that’s still brand new and the occasional designer piece.

4. Buy Staple Pieces

Instead of following trends, you can buy things that never go out of style. This is more of a lifestyle change, but whose day-to-day style cant use some updating? An example of a "staple piece" would be something like white shirts, cardigans, denim jeans, cable-knit sweaters, simple pumps, and little black dresses. These are perfect to complete your wardrobe as well. These are all things that can be a base for a cute outfit that just needs some accessorizing, and many fun accessories can be bought from sustainable companies. 

5. Make Your Own Clothing

Upcycling has become super popular in the last couple of years. Upcycling also allows you to learn a little sewing in the process, which is always a good skill to have. You can paint jeans, turn large shirts into dresses, or even make and sell scrunchies. It also tends to be cheaper to use fabric from already made clothing than to buy new fabric from Hobby Lobby or JoAnn Fabrics.  The possibilities are endless. 

Fast Fashion isn’t something new, it’s been around a while and is likely to stay. This newest generation of up-and-coming fashionistas will have to be the ones who make the conscious effort to avoid fast fashion. Without it, the toll on the environment may be irreversible. It takes a lot of people to change something but it starts with one. Being environmentally conscious isn’t easy but if we all take steps to make an effort, we can start a change. 

Courtney is a junior at Montclair State University and is from a small town in Pennsylvania. She loves fashion, reading, art, and history.

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