Fast fashion, its impacts, and its alternatives
February 2, 2022
The fast fashion industry has proved itself to be the opposite of sustainable for the environment or ethical for its workers. According to Good on You, 93% of fast fashion brands do not pay their workers a wage high enough to afford everyday essentials. They also often employ younger women and children because of fast fashion companies’ increasing demand for workers and the belief that it’s their only way to provide for their families.
Despite this, fast fashion brands like Shein, Zara, and PrettyLittleThing remain popular, especially among teenagers. With these brands, it is easy to find something affordable and trendy in a place located easily in any local mall or on the internet. But is the short-term cheap price paid by consumers worth the long-term damage to the environment?
“When shopping unsustainably or unethically, things that aren’t in use anymore [end up going] out to the trash, and it piles up [into] huge landfills,” said Zoe Byun, cofounder of the Bay Area Youth Climate Action Team and a senior at Carlmont.
According to Consumption and the Consumer Society, what truly allowed the consumer society to flourish is each individual’s desire to define themselves through material items. Individual initiative alongside technological innovations collectively led to an era of noticeable climate change issues. While consumers are unable to control company decisions to minimize their impacts on the environment or not, they can decide where they are buying from.
“Hands down, fast fashion is one of the easiest things for people to avoid. When you want something cheap, you can go find it secondhand for a [lesser] price,” said Taylor Hawkins, an environmental science teacher at Carlmont High School.
Through thrifting, those who wish to express and define themselves can browse through a wider variety of clothes at a lower price.
“You feel better about yourself [when] you shop sustainably, and [thrifting] is also more unique,” said Abby Kizner, a junior at Carlmont.
Secondhand shops are also becoming almost as accessible as fast-fashion shops as they make their presence online through apps like Depop and Poshmark. On these platforms, users can buy and sell new and used items. There are also many alternatives to thrifting if it is inaccessible or unpreferred. Brands like Patagonia, New Balance, Adidas are some ethical and sustainable options.
Shopping sustainably means supporting eco-friendly brands that have environmentally-conscious practices like using recycled materials, reducing water usage, and minimizing waste”
— Abby Kizner, a junior at Carlmont
The pricing of these brands may turn some people away from shopping there, but many companies work to make these brands more affordable.
Both of these brands, along with many others, now accept Afterpay. This financial technology company allows customers to pay four installments over six months for their purchase instead of paying all at once. Afterpay is accepted both online and in-stores and can be downloaded for free.
Afterpay opens the option for those who want to shop from more sustainable yet expensive brands and don’t necessarily have the funds to at the time. Thrift stores open the opportunity for people to shop more sustainably and express themselves through unique articles of clothing.