Fast fashion “refers to the low-cost clothing collection that mimic luxury fashion trends” in incredibly large scales (Joy, 273). The production of low quality clothing in mass quantities by poorly paid laborers is a system of production many large-scale clothing companies rely on to produce their products at the rate of turnover that the public demands. What once was a bi-seasonal turn over of clothing, transformed into the expectations of new products finding their place on the racks every few weeks [1, Claudio]. This demand is fed by the need for new products to be made in order to replace the old ones, which have fallen apart within a few wears. But this demand can only be met by producing clothing that is of lower quality in make and material. It is a cyclical effect, which results in “Americans [throwing] away more than 68 pound of clothing per person, per year” (Fast Fashion, 452).
Beyond the odd psychological affects of our reliance on material goods, it is that large accumulation of waste that is the basis of concern. Though the actual total percentage of waste that clothing makes up in landfills is less than 1%, with this consistently increasing demand and the fact that these man made materials will not degrade quickly, landfills are filling up with clothing produced at the hands of fast fashion [Fast Fashion, 453].
Unfortunately that is just the beginning, some of the biggest damages are seen in the production of the materials itself. Two examples of fiber production I’ll present are polyester, a man made fiber, and cotton, a natural fiber, based on Information from Waste Couture: Environmental Impact Of The Clothing Industry by Luz Claudio. Both are very commonly used fabrics in the fashion industry that require many chemicals in the production. As expected the production of a man made fiber such as polyester inevitably requires chemicals in the process. The production of polyester is an incredibly energy intensive process, which requires petroleum, that results in emissions such as hydrogen chloride and other chemical emissions through wastewater from manufacturing plants. In comparison to cotton, which is a natural fiber, there are significantly less chemicals put into the creation however there is a massive amount of pesticides put into the growth of cotton plants. The production of cotton “accounts for a quarter of all the pesticides used in the United States,[which is] the largest exporter of cotton” (Claudio, 450).
Claudio, Luz. "Waste Couture: Environmental Impact Of The Clothing Industry." Environmental Health Perspectives 115.9 (2007): A448-A454. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Feb. 2017.
"Fast Fashion." Ecologist 37.2 (2007): 60-61. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Feb. 2017.
Joy, Annamma, et al. "Fast Fashion, Sustainability, And The Ethical Appeal Of Luxury Brands." Fashion Theory: The Journal Of Dress, Body & Culture 16.3 (2012): 273-295. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Feb. 2017.