The contradictions of fast fashion

Elouise Nuo

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January 19, 2023
The contradictions of fast fashion

If you had to decide to dress trendy every day or help save the Earth, which would you choose?

Yes, it is quite an obscure question, but a rather important one. This is a genuine ultimatum that many people have come to contemplate living in our day and age. The climate crisis is in need desperate of action, but the want to fit into our modern society is, scarily, just as strong. You would think that the majority answer to that question is to save the planet, but with our generation’s social media addictions, we actively choose fast fashion. 

You may wonder why that question is hard for some people to answer. Well, not everyone cares about the planet. That is hard to believe for some people, but it is true. Many people have a mindset that the climate crisis is someone else’s problem. Sure, big corporations and the government need to take great action, due to the power they hold, in order to better our planet in larger proportions. As humans, we still have value in helping society take small steps in a forward direction in order to save the planet. 

Each year, the fashion industry is to blame for creating a whopping 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions globally.”

What is fast fashion and why do so many people feed into it? Fast fashion is the mass production of low-cost clothing that is a replication of what is on the high-fashion market at that time. It is a trendy alternative to high-fashion prices. One of the main fast fashion brands that has gained popularity amongst its’ other well-known competitors, such as Zara and H&M, is Shein. Shein is a Chinese online clothing retailer created by Chris Xu in 2008. It went from a small company to a billion-dollar fashion frenzy.  Overall, the United States is number one when it comes to the number of consumers that would rather buy fast fashion, standing at a high of 88% with other countries including Europe at 46%, India at 25%, and China at 21%. 

The reason for all of this is because of our brains. There is a section of our brains called the substantia nigra/ventral segmental area; it is where the novelty stimuli responders live, meaning when we see something new that is highly wanted, that part of our brain reacts. When this occurs, our dopamine levels rise, then creating an impulse to want to buy more new things. 

In the case of fast fashion consumerism, this is very helpful. The more items that are bought, the more money is made. In the case of our planet, this is extremely detrimental. Each year, the fashion industry is to blame for creating a whopping 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions globally. The amount of textile waste every year is 92 million tons, and it is only growing. That is the equivalent of throwing out a trash truck full of clothes every single second, which is unfathomable. 

Action needs to be taken to support our planet. I can somewhat understand wanting to fit in and feel trendy. At the same time, does it make the most sense when our planet is literally dying? No, I see value in clean air, not in a top that I will wear once and never use again.