Tossing out threads

Fast fashion industry affects more than just the environment

Aiden Lewald, Staff Writer

As spring rolls around, it is time for most teens to be putting away their winter clothes. Soon after, they’re pulling out their wallets, searching the web for trendy spring clothing, ready to achieve their yearly average of $2,150 spent on personal items. 

Their go-to clothing websites are the ones with the cheapest, yet cutest clothing. As they scan the web, they come across stores like FashionNova, Shein, and Zara. 

There is one thing these stores all have in common, other than the obvious fact that they have the cheapest, trendiest, and most convenient clothing. They all fall into the dangerous category of rapid fashion production. However, the negative impacts of fast fashion are much more complicated.

“What was cool last week might not be cool anymore,” junior Mia Templien said. “So companies such as Shein and H&M take things that are super popular right now and produce them super quick.”

Because fast fashion has a total of 52 micro-seasons, the amount of clothing waste produced by these big businesses is astonishing. Clothes rapidly go in and out of season, and the clothes that are no longer “fashionable” or “trendy” are thrown into the dumps. 

“The global apparel industry produced more than 150 billion garments–” MIT News reporter Stefanie Koperniak said, “enough to provide more than 20 new articles of clothing to every person on the planet.”

In the United States alone, 11 million pounds of fashion waste are thrown away each year. This means that the average American produces roughly 82 pounds of textile waste each year. 

The major impacts of fast fashion range from the depletion of non-renewable resources, large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, and the massive amount of water usage. According to an article published by “Forbes” , this industry accounts for over 10% of all carbon emissions. 

Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world. This is a result of the widespread use of materials such as polyester, nylon, and other synthetic fabrics; all of which take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

“Fast fashion has an impact on the environment in several ways:  by clothing becoming another cheap, disposable item, the garment is not meant to last, in a fashion sense or physical sense,” science teacher Jeff Machal said. “Due to the rapid and inexpensive production, the factories producing these items are not concerned with sustainability.Many are known to dump toxic metal byproducts from production into their local waterways.”

A study done by BMC examines the environmental impact of fast fashion, stating that the textile dyeing techniques used by companies often releases toxicants into nearby water systems. This can severely impact the health of animals along with the nearby residents.

The intensive pollution, resulting from the hazardous chemicals used, that is produced by these production techniques is simply irreversible.Not only is fast fashion the second most polluting industry worldwide, it is the second most water consuming industry. On average, one cotton shirt takes up to 700 gallons of water to produce, while a singular pair of jeans takes up to 2,000 gallons of water.

As teens continue to search the web for the season’s most fashionable looks, they have the knowledge to decide whether they want to impact the world by falling into the fast fashion business model that dominates the fashion industry.