Fast fashion is clothing's equivalent to fast food – cheaply made, with low-cost materials usually petroleum-based synthetics, that are not built to last. Like fast food, it's unhealthy all around. The workers who make the clothes are paid too little while enduring awful work conditions; the trendy styles and low prices make us want to consume more, so we fill our closets with a surplus of items that stretch, stain, and tear too easily; and those items end up in the trash.
The trash part of this timeline is a big problem. Sixty percent of clothes are thrown out within a year of purchase, and when so many of those are made from polyester or acrylic, that s no different than throwing away plastic – a material many of us are trying to get rid of in other parts of our lives. As Kelly Drennan, founder of Fashion Takes Action, put it in a recent TEDx talk, Why is it we care more about plastic straws and plastic bags in the landfill than we do our plastic clothes? It's time to start thinking about synthetics as future plastic waste.
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There have been times in the past few years when I’ve walked past a Zara or H&M store and lingered in front of the window, wishing I could go in and drop $ or $ on a cute top or dress. The old me, years ago, would have done it – not because I needed the outfit but because it was fun and affordable. But that was before I knew what I do now about the fast fashion industry and just how atrocious it is for the environment.
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