The Problem with Fast Fashion: Cheap Clothes, High Hidden Costs

Dec. 30, 2020, 6 a.m. • Giada Nizzoli

The Problem with Fast Fashion: Cheap Clothes, High Hidden Costs

A £5 dress? Sounds amazing at first, doesn’t it? Sadly, there’s a high cost hidden behind these low price tags.

To understand the problem with fast fashion and, most importantly, what you can do to help, let’s start with the basics.

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is a business model that consists of mass-producing cheaply made clothes that follow this season’s trends. 

They’re sold at an extremely low price and intended to be disposed of after a few wearings.

What is the problem with fast fashion?

The problem with fast fashion is that it relies on an unsustainable business model, employing unethical and polluting practices in order to cut costs.

Fast fashion’s environmental impact

Traditionally grown cotton which is one of the problems of fast fashion

Sadly, good environmental practices are one of the first things to be left aside to reduce costs. 

We could write an entire book on fast fashion’s environmental impact, but, to give you an idea:

  • Around 90% of its wastewater in developing countries is discharged into rivers untreated. Containing substances like mercury, arsenic, lead and fertilisers, it’s harmful to bodies of water, fauna, and humans;
  • Fast fashion relies on fabrics with a bad environmental footprint, like traditionally grown cotton (that’s mostly genetically modified and loaded with pesticides) and plastic-derived synthetic materials like polyester, which shed microplastics, aren’t biodegradable, and have a high carbon footprint (an average of 5.5 kg of CO2 per t-shirt!);
  • The chemicals employed to speed up the process lead to soil degradation.

Ethical problems with fast fashion

Fast fashion garment workers

Another way for fast fashion to cut costs is through the use of sweatshops. 

This industry is known for underpaying its garment workers and even relying on factories that employ child labour.

On top of that, fast fashion workers are also forced to withstand inhuman shifts and accept unsafe environments. 

An eye-opener for the world was when the Rana Plaza manufacturing complex in Bangladesh collapsed in 2013, killing and injuring thousands of workers.

The problem with fast fashion’s model

Woman buying more fast fashion clothes

Let’s be honest: the real problem with fast fashion is its entire business model, which is unsustainable!

Because it encourages people to see their garments as disposable, every item is worn an average of 7 times, with one in three young women in the UK considering it ‘old’ if they’ve worn it once or twice. 

This leads to 92m tonnes of waste a year. When you think that clothes (especially those made of synthetic fibres) can take around 200 years to decompose, fast fashion is scary to say the least.

Plus, cheaply made garments worn less than 5 times produce over 400% more emissions than those worn around 50.

An alternative to fast fashion: a slow, sustainable approach

Sustainable fashion playsuit

In a world that pushes you to see your clothes as disposable, the alternative is to fall in love with them! Cherish and take care of your clothes to make them last longer.

To avoid the problems of fast fashion, choose garments that were made sustainably and ethically. For example, you can look at the most sustainable fabrics and buy from companies that treat their workers respectfully, paying them proper wages.

Not sure where to start? Well, you’re in the right place.

At Project Cece, we know that finding the right sustainable clothes for you can be difficult since these small shops are scattered all over the web. 

That’s why we’ve brought over 200 fair trade brands in one place! 

Not only that, but we’ve added practical filters to help you find what sustainable fashion truly means to you.

Yes, there are many problems with fast fashion, but you can choose to be part of the solution!

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Project Cece is a platform that collects ethical clothing from different webshops on one website. Take a look in our shopping section and find the clothing that fits your style, budget and values!

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