Toxic Trends

When most teens shop, they are looking for cheaper clothes that fit the latest trends and styles, leading them to stores such as Forever 21, H&M, and Uniqlo. In the moment, shopping at these stores may seem like the best choice: it’s affordable, trendy, and easy. But, those inexpensive prices come at a cost for others. These stores are examples of the detrimental practice of fast fashion: inexpensive clothing produced rapidly in response to the latest trends.

Despite efforts to make the harmful side of fast fashion known to the public, many still have not been informed of these dangers. According to recent survey results, more than 31% of students here at Notre Dame have never even thought about the harms of fast fashion brands. “I wish there was a cheaper alternative for fashion that was more sustainable,” says Lindsay Golan ‘23.

Fast fashion puts human lives in danger for cheap labor; events like the American Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 and the 2013 Dhaka factory collapse in Bangladesh are clear evidence of this. Despite many warnings from the government saying that the building was not safe to occupy, the factory owners were compelled to continue employing the workers because of the high demand for fast fashion.

In addition, there are environmental problems induced by fast fashion, including releasing toxic chemicals and rapidly adding to the amount of clothing waste. The short life span of fast fashion products means more textile waste after the clothes are being thrown out, increasing the percentage of clothes going into landfills.

However, there are many ways that we can avoid buying into the fast fashion industry. Shopping second hand is a great option, because not only are you reducing the amount of textile waste, it is also usually cheaper than buying new clothes. You can also choose to invest in more expensive brands that are more sustainable. And if you are not quite ready to give up your trendy brands yet, you can still help out. Researching about the brands you like ahead of time can reduce the chance of buying from a company that supports these harmful practices. Even though fast fashion may make a negative impact, there is always a way to avoid contributing to unethical companies.

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