The Environmental Costs of Fast Fashion

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In today's world, fashion is one of the most used outlets for individuals to express their unique identities. The fast pace of the industry, that has trends moving in and out every day, allows for broad choices when expressing one's culture, sex, and social status. Social media has been a bridge for people to express themselves even further by sharing their fashion choices to the public eye. However, humans love for showing off how good they look is having a drastic impact on our environment. The effect of creating clothes, textiles and fibers are not seen as an issue on a large scale because these are things we use every day. There is not much thought put into where your clothing comes from. There is also not that much attention drawn to it because of the new trend of having clothing be one-hundred percent organic. However, these one-hundred percent organic outfits that are being worn are often only seen on the runways, and not in our local and chain stores. Humans have been creating their own clothes for forever. Over time some countries have decided to stick to making their clothing by hand and some countries have created huge factories to do it for them. The fashion industry's negative impact on the environment stems from the release of carbon emissions, dumping of toxic chemicals, using drinkable water for dyes and so much more. The fashion industry is one of the leading causes of pollution on our earth.

The reason that fashion is having such an impact on our environment is that it is always changing. The fashion industry is always competing to come up with the thing that is “in” and because humans are wired to think that they need to fit in to feel comfortable then there is always a large demand for new clothing thus creating what is called “fast fashion”. Fast fashion is when clothes are made cheap and quick so that stores like Forever 21 and American Eagle can keep their customers up to date on what is “in” for a little price. Clothing manufacture is one of the leading trades in the world because it is needed everywhere. Another part of fast fashion is the creation of things that everyone wears daily, for example, underwear and bras. Undergarments come out of large mass production factories that are constantly producing these items because we need them.

Aside from the mass production of fast fashion the fertilizers used for cotton production are affecting our streams, air, and soil. Because cotton needs large amounts of water in order to grow, there is an immense amount of runoff that is going into rivers and streams. Along with running into streams and rivers, many of the chemicals used in the pesticides and insecticides evaporate into the air when placed into the ground. The effect that these chemicals have on our water cycle does not stop at the runoff. Every time we wash a synthetic garment (polyester, nylon, etc), about 1,900 individual microfibers are released into the water, making their way into our oceans. Scientists have discovered that small aquatic organisms ingest those microfibers. These are then eaten by small fish and these smaller fish are later eaten by bigger fish introducing plastic in our food chain. Humans have also ingested this plastic filled water, although no effects have been shown yet. In the 1950s the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, two rivers in Uzbekistan were diverted from the Aral sea to provide for the mass amount of water that is needed when growing cotton. Then this water that was used was dumped back into the Aral sea exposing aquatic life to all of the chemicals. Today, water levels in the Aral are less than 10 percent of what they were 50 years ago because of the large need for watering cotton. Women, men, and children who lived along this river and relied on it for life had to leave and relocate. This fresh water was completely stripped from this community and was made undrinkable.

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The Environmental Costs of Fast Fashion. (2021, Apr 10). Retrieved November 30, 2023 , from

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