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How Fast Fashion Became Faster — and Worse for the Earth

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This essay, Evelyn Wang17 years old, from Naperville North High School in Naperville, Illinois, is one of the top 11. winner Learning network 9th Student Editing ContestReceived 16,664 entries.

Next week, we’ll be releasing the work of all the winners and runners-up. You can find them. here As they post.


How fast fashion has become — and even worse for the planet

Spring dance is two weeks and my friend needs to help me choose a dress. She invites me to her phone. There, an endless mosaic of elegant dresses, not more than $ 20, dances in front of me. After much deliberation, she settled on a gorgeous sapphire gown with pleated details on the bodice lining. Two more weeks later, the dress was carpeted at the bottom of the landfill and worn only once.

Welcome to the world of fast fashion.

Fast fashion is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the 1990s, retailers began introducing fashionable, cheap, poor clothing every week to keep pace with the rapidly changing pace of fashion trends. The style is cheap, convenient and consumable.

But fast fashion is ultimately a privilege. It is a privilege to buy clothes just for your own style, and to ignore the environmental impact of doing so. In reality, the aggressive consumption cycle perpetuated by fast fashion is that the clothes we wear are more likely to be part of 92 million tonnes of textile waste annually. Means.

During the pandemic, when the store closed, consumers chose to abandon fast fashion staples such as H & M and Zara and instead order from e-commerce social media sensations such as Shein and Asos. (Shein is currently valued at $ 100 billion, more than H & M and Zara combined.) These brands represent the escalation of both fast fashion and its environmental burden.

These fast fashion newcomers thrived during the pandemic because of their unique business model. They exist entirely online, allowing thousands of new styles released daily to be shipped directly from the warehouse to consumers, avoiding supply chain disruptions and US import tariffs in the process. On the other hand, cheap overseas labor and reliance on synthetic fibers keep prices irresistibly low.

But these practices are more damaging to the planet than ever before. These retailers rely solely on international transportation to move their goods, thus only exacerbating 1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted by transportation annually. Virtually all of these brands sell garments containing petroleum-based resource-intensive synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon. During their lifetime, these fibers are responsible for 35% of the microplastics that pollute our oceans and can then take centuries to decompose in landfills.

Fast fashion, of course, represents a combination of attractive style and savings, but now more than ever, price tags can’t quantify the true cost of clothing. If a consumer wants to update their wardrobe, they can update it in a sustainable way by saving on second-hand clothing, reworking it, and looking up environmentally friendly brands.

For now, I’m going to wear the same dress as last year and participate in the next school dance.

Works quoted

Beer, Abigail. “”The reason why it is difficult to recycle clothes.BBC Future, July 12, 2020.

Monroe, Rachel. “”Super fast fashion is eating the world.Atlantic Ocean, February 6, 2021.

Nguyen, Terry. “”Shane is the future of fast fashion. Is that a good thing?Vox, July 13, 2021.

Okamoto, Katie. “”Your laundry sheds harmful microfibers. This is what you can do about it.The New York Times, April 21, 2021.

Sole, Jonathan. “”The share of shipping in global carbon emissions is increasing.Reuters, August 4, 2020.

Williams, Lara. “”The rise of Shane tests the industry’s go-green commitment.Bloomberg, April 10, 2022.

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