The TRUTH About Fast Fashion & What You Can Do About It

Photo by Emma Witter

Fast fashion is the idea of cheap, trendy clothing. The market for stylish yet low-quality clothing originates from celebrity culture, where garments are worn a few times until they go out of style and are thrown away or donated. It stems from a toxic system of overproduction in the fashion industry which is only growing. These effects from fast fashion cause destruction environmentally, poor pay and treatment to factory workers internationally and contribute to the throwaway culture. According to “Business Insider” the fast fashion industry emits up to 10 percent of global emissions each year and people bought 60 percent more garments in 2014 than in 2000. That’s coming faster than you think.

Things to look for when spotting fast fashion in a store or website (like Zara, H&M, Gap or Forever 21): thousands of styles to choose from, extremely short turnaround time on trends and garments, offshore manufacturing which allows for cheap pricing, limited quantities of certain garments made to drive demand up for a short period of time and clothing made from cheap, low-quality materials. “Business Insider” says the industry is the second-largest consumer of water worldwide and is responsible for 20 percent of industrial water pollution across the globe. 

For many college students living paycheck to paycheck, trying to keep up with current trends is almost impossible. But budget-friendly ways to revive your wardrobe do exist. We have to think ahead about dressing professionally for the “real world” while avoiding giving into the newest clothes that come out on SHEIN every month. 

Photo by Emma Witter

Second-hand clothing stores

Hit up your local Goodwill or Salvation Army to add unique pieces to your closet. Plato’s Closet buys back quality name brand clothing and then sells it for a reasonable price. Buying second hand is cheaper and the options are always changing within each store. The amount of clothing that ends up in the dump is the equivalent to one garbage truck that is full of clothes being dumped or burned every second. It is estimated that up to 85 percent of what people buy from fast fashion clothing stores will end up in a landfill. Buying second-hand keeps the recycling going and adds a damper to the constant intake of clothing.  

Check online for sales

Photo by Emma Witter

Sales are always happening online. Around Black Friday and the weeks after, prices drop drastically because it’s the end of the year. Stores will continue to promote sales in-store or online that can take a big chunk off of the total when it’s time to pay. Consider shopping in-store versus online to promote local businesses in the area, but be sure to follow COVID-19 procedures and guidelines.


DIY Clothing Trends at home

Whether scrolling through Tiktok or social media, cheaper DIY fashion trends are on the rise. Anybody can run to grab just a few things and make fashionable worthy pieces. Try upcycling your old t-shirt or sweatshirt with bleach or tie-dye designs. YouTubers make it easy to follow the process to get your dream rainbow sweatpants. Be sure to look for eco-friendly dyes and other supplies. These homemade pieces will feel more special to you because you made it yourself! 

Photo by Emma Witter

Reconsider these facts and impacts on the environment before buying new jeans or a top from the store window that will be out of style in a few weeks.

Fast fashion has impacted our planet through “throwaway” culture — it’s the most wasteful industry. It’s always better to buy recycled vintage clothing over brand new items. By recycling clothes or checking the sales racks, college students can save and shop sustainably at the same time. 


Check our sources:

Business Insider

NY Times

Manhappenin' Magazine is Kansas State University's student-created lifestyle magazine.


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