By Bianca Peura
In 2020, the fast fashion industry has been profiting immensely, as consumers have been using the global pandemic as an excuse to shop online for cheap and trendy clothing items. I am not undermining the deadliness of Covid-19, but being the second largest pollutant after oil, fast fashion is equally as terrible. Corporations are pressured to hasten production and reduce prices, which means the use of cheap, toxic dyes. When production speeds up, the rate at which clothing is disposed of also increases, creating a massive amount of textile waste. In fact, out of the 16.9 million tons of textile waste in the United States in the year 2017, only a mere 15.2% was recycled, which resulted in 11.2 million tons of textiles ending up in landfills. In addition to causing environmental problems, many corporations also exploit their laborers, making them work for excruciatingly long hours; as much as 16 hours a day for all seven days of the week, only to get paid $96 a month.
In order to mitigate all of this damage, there are numerous alternatives to fast fashion that are also safe to do during the pandemic. These include going to thrift and consignment shops while keeping in mind social distancing requirements, online thrift sites, and even simply searching your own home. A common fallacy is that people who are financially well off should not purchase from donation centers like the Goodwill and the Salvation Army, because they would be ‘stealing’ from the poor. It is actually quite the opposite. All of the money spent at these non-profit entities is transmitted to charities, meaning that they are more effective if more people are there to purchase. Of course the process only works if people actively donate items; it is very similar to the recycling of plastics. Rummaging through your home is also a simple way to either expand your wardrobe, or to find donations. Few people understand the excitement of finding a dusty box in a closet and opening it to find a vast assortment of vintage clothing from the 1970s and 80s.
I admit that I once fell victim to fast fashion, however, recently I have become much more conscious of the detrimental effects it has on society, the economy, and most importantly, the earth itself. There are many people who would like to live to an old age, and we need to save this experience for future generations as well. While there are some exceptions, particularly for those who don’t have adequate resources, it is best to refrain from buying the newest fashion trends and get creative.