South Tyneside Young Green discusses "The Impact Of Fast Fashion"

29 March 2016




The Impact of Fast Fashion (reproduced from

So I’m going to start off by saying that I’m kind of a hypocrite. I have always been aware that when I was shopping I am contributing to climate change and the destruction of 3rd world countries. I’ve also been aware that the garments I’ve bought have probably been made in terrible conditions. I was always conscious of that, and I don’t know if it was my love of fashion that made me stay silent on the topic for so long, or maybe it was the lack of coverage it’s been given in mainstream news as it only seems to be covered when there’s a big event such as in 2013 when a factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1000+ workers. I honestly don't know why I've been silent for this long, but I'm not going to be anymore.

Fast fashion is ruining people’s lives. For us in more developed countries it’s fun, like "OMG have you seen that dress from H&M it’s so cute and trendy I’m going to buy it." To us, it’s just clothing that is dispensable, that we can throw away once it’s out of cycle. We keep consuming things we don’t need for the sake of ‘fast fashion’ because it’s cool and it’s going to get us a few more likes on Instagram or a few more views on that blog post.

If you have seen the documentary ‘The True Cost’ which is on Netflix , you will know that the fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry- right behind oil, and you will also know that 97% of clothes are produced abroad. If you’re wondering how these two statistics are linked, let me explain by using this quote “Little care was paid to Indonesia’s water infrastructure when its textile boom began; proper framework for waste disposal was largely neglected. Clothing manufacturers dumped their chemicals into the river, making the Citarum nothing more than an open sewer containing with lead, mercury, arsenic and a host of other toxins… Greenpeace described the discharge as “highly caustic, will burn human skin coming into direct contact with the stream and will have a severe impact (most likely fatal) on aquatic life…”. So just by this one example you can see the affect that our consumption is having on people living in undeveloped countries. The river Citarum is very important to the people of West Java, as it supports agriculture, water supply, fishery, industry, sewerage, electricity, etc.

How is this fair? How is this just? Why are people poorer than us having to struggle to live because we keep polluting their environment?

Now to mention the people who are making our clothes in the garment factories. As I said before, there was a huge international news story about a factory collapsing; this exposed to the world the terrible working conditions people were having to endure. Not only did workers have terrible working conditions, they were totally alone in their struggles as unions weren’t present. On a positive note this has changed over the years as in 2012 there was only 122 unions In Bangladesh but statistics from 2015 show there’s now 437 unions which represent 5% of workers in the industry. Obviously this isn’t anywhere near enough but it is going in a positive direction. However, safety at work is not the only problem facing workers in Bangladesh as they're also being paid ridiculously low wages. "The majority of garment workers in Bangladesh earn little more than the minimum wage, set at 3,000 taka a month (approximately £25), far below what is considered a living wage, calculated at 5,000 taka a month (approximately £45), which would be the minimum required to provide a family with shelter, food and education." These facts are very frightening as the fashion industry is a trillion dollar industry but is still putting these workers on starvation wages.

I chose to write a blog post on this because I’m a part of the fashion community online and I think it's our duty to put pressure on brands to demand a higher wage for the people who make their clothes that we buy. We cannot go on consuming like there's no tomorrow when people's lives are in danger and the earth is suffering. I urge you to research this topic for yourself and expand your mind so the next time you go into H&M or Primark you know what you're supporting and under what conditions your products are made. I know this post was all over the place but it's because it's such a broad topic that encompasses many different issues, there's still a lot that I haven't even touched on. I hope that you enjoyed this post and it's encouraged you to look up more on the subject. I will be doing a follow up and going more in depth soon, but I wanted this post to just include the basics of this topic.