Cheap Clothing Comes with High Costs 

By: Abigail Grunden 

      Fast fashion is a term used for inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Many people buy from fast fashion companies and are unaware of the impact that it really has. The Squire wanted to get a closer look at the fast fashion industry and inform Eisenhower students about what popular companies are involved. 

     There is a large environmental impact caused by fast fashion. Clothes are rapidly produced according to the latest trends, causing Americans to throw away about 24 billion pounds of clothes and shoes each year, according to a 2018 Environmental Protection Agency report. 

     The New York Times Upfront Magazine also explained, “Making these clothes requires a massive number of materials, chemicals, and water, and produces significant carbon emissions, which scientists say contribute to climate change.” Many people are unaware of their contribution to these companies and their impact on the climate. 

    The Squire interviewed an Eisenhower student, Sydney Weissinger, who shops on a popular ultra-fast fashion website, Shein. The Squire asked Weissinger how frequently she shops, and she replied, “I usually shop three to four times a month.” She also was unaware that some of her favorite stores, such as American Eagle, H&M, Zara, and Forever 21, are fast fashion. A poll, posted by The Squire on Instagram, asked students if they have ever shopped at companies such as Shein, Romwe, or Wish. The results came back with 36 out of 52 students saying they have purchased from one of the provided fast fashion industries, and 50% of them said they were unaware of how it is produced. 

     There are many countries worldwide involved in the production of fast fashion. The New York Times Upfront Magazine describes the process, “Traditionally, fast fashion companies have contracted factories in developing countries, such as China and Bangladesh, that pay workers a few dollars a day to produce the clothes.”  

     Social media is a main influencer to the younger generation. Clothing sites are supported and advertised by many celebrities, making people more likely to purchase from them. The average consumer buys 60 percent more clothing today than 15 years ago, according to a 2019 report by consulting firm, McKinsey & Company.  

     It is unfortunate that most chain stores, including Walmart and Target, are also involved in this industry. If you’re interested in decreasing your shopping at fast fashion retailers, try shopping at thrift stores, ordering from small businesses, or upcycling your own clothing in an attempt to decrease the amount of waste from clothing. Also, invest in the basics that will last you a few years. Keep in mind that buying cheap clothing comes with a cost.  

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