The Fall of Fast Fashion
The price of the $3 top we find online is as low as it can go. But the cost of that top to the environment is way higher than we ever stop to think. The popularity of inexpensive clothing websites has increased significantly over recent years. These fast fashion websites have begun to dominate the world of online shopping. The appeal of these sites is that the clothes are in style and obtainable at low price.
The rise of fast fashion websites and the poor quality clothes they offer has consumers shortening the clothes service life. The cycle of fast fashion and the want to stay trendy also has the majority of clothes bought from these sites to end up in landfills after they have served their short lived purpose. “Fast fashion” is the term that has been coined to describe these websites that have become favorable to consumers looking for cheap, trendy clothes. According to the EPA on their website, on their page “Textiles-Material Specific Data,” it was “estimated that the generation of textiles in 2018 was 17 million tons.” Specifically in the United States, the volume of clothing that is thrown away each year has doubled in the last 20 years. It’s important to note that out of the 17 million tons of clothes, only 14.7 percent is recycled. Less than 15 percent means that there is room for improvement in how we dispose of clothes when we no longer find them useful.
Fashion is among the world’s most polluting industries: it requires large quantities of raw materials, creates high levels of pollution, leaves a significant carbon footprint, and generates copious levels of waste. The relationship between the fashion industry’s need to continually evolve to satisfy consumers’ insatiable desire to acquire the latest trends and the loss of exclusivity as consumers acquire the most popular garments, shows that the fashion industry is inherently opposed to sustainability.
Solene Rauturier in the article, “What Is Fast Fashion” for good on you, made the point, “Clothes shopping used to be an occasional event—something that happened a few times a year when the seasons changed or when we outgrew what we had. But about 20 years ago, something changed.” The main goal of fast fashion is to get the newest styles on the market as fast as possible. Then these companies hope that consumers grab these clothes while they’re at the pinnacle of popularity and then discard them after a few years. This cycle contributes to the idea that wearing the same outfit more than once is looked down upon. This mindset promotes the current system of overproduction that has made fashion one of the largest polluters.
A movement to combat fast-fashion has arisen known as slow fashion which places emphasis on more sustainable practices. This movement naturally promotes sustainability through more ethical sourcing and production techniques as well as by using organic, recycled, or more durable materials. The labor involved in the production of such garments receives higher wages and greater protection than those in the supply chain of the fast fashion industry. While finished garments may cost more, they last longer and incorporate more timeless styles to combat the need for only wearing the latest trends. One example of slow fashion that is most popular is collaborative consumption. In a broad sense of the term, collaborative consumption, is the shared use of a service or good by a group of people. The main example used for collaborative consumption when talking about clothing is thrift stores. By donating and buying clothes that were donated, consumers are able to extend the longevity of the clothes instead of throwing them away.
There is a solution that promotes collaborative consumption and the slow fashion movement. Going to thrift stores to seek out pieces of clothing that are timeless rather than focusing on the latest trend is a huge step in the right direction of lowering the environmental impact of clothes. Taking the time to look for clothes that will be able to stay in your wardrobe long term is worth the environmental payoff.
Bahareh Zamani, Gustav Sandin, Greg M. Peters, Life cycle assessment of clothing libraries: can collaborative consumption reduce the environmental impact of fast fashion?, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 162, 2017, Pages 1368-1375, ISSN 0959-6526, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.06.128.
Brown, R. (2021, January 08). The environmental crisis caused by Textile Waste. Retrieved April 06, 2021
Rauturier, S. (2021, March 29). What is fast fashion? Retrieved April 06, 2021Textiles: Material-specific data. (2020, October 07). Retrieved March 08, 2021
We do not address our readers directly, Honeysuckle, for the very good reason that we don’t have the right to lecture anyone. Saying “YOU” creates an antagonistic relationship. We want to establish rapport. Blame yourself for (allow that we should blame OURselves) for being uninformed. Share what you’ve just learned out of gratitude for your new enlightenment.
“The price of the $3 top we find online is as low as it can go. But the COST of that top to the environment is way higher than we ever stop to think.”
Read your introduction carefully and you’ll see it’s a sandwich. You make one claim at the top, and repeat it at the bottom (bread slices). In between, you layer several slices of the same thing: the sites are convenient and cheap.
It’s hard to credit your claim that THE RISE OF THE SITES has shortened the service life of clothes or caused more fashion to get dumped. But the causal chain will be intriguing to follow in your Causal Argument when it comes. Didn’t you say the pandemic CAUSED the popularity of the sites? Isn’t it the desire for cheap trendy clothes and the nonchalance of the buyers who don’t particularly care how long the clothes last that CAUSES the popularity of the sites AND the readiness with which they toss away the shoddy stuff when it’s no longer hot?
—Readers don’t know whether 17 million tons of clothing is a lot. Was it only 5 million tons 20 years ago? Something to put that into perspective? Does food waste account for only 15 million tons?
—It’s not shocking that only a small percentage of fashion is recycled. But it is lamentable. And it does offer an opportunity. If you told me that you could bury the state of Delaware in clothing that had been discarded after being worn fewer than 10 times, THAT would be shocking.
“But, there are ways to lower OUR environmental impact when WE purchase clothes. Consumers just need to be aware of all OUR options.”
—You lost me with your numbering here, HSL. You name three theories. They’re pretty jargony, so I don’t memorize them right away. Then you examine “sustainability theory,” already a little confusing because I don’t distinguish it easily from “sustainability framework,” Then some more jargon about benefit maximization, which could be a whole new category, then IT has three components too. By the time you call out the TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE, I’m pretty sure you’ve already described the three theories you named at the top of the paragraph. But you haven’t. I see that when I get to Paragraph 4.
I think my overall advice for describing these very worthy categories is that they will be much easier to appreciate with specific examples.
—Companies that give the impression of being socially responsible give their customers the feeling that THEY are being responsible.
—Responsible customers want to feel good knowing that their garments are being made sustainably by workers who earning a living wage in a safe work environment.
—Without focusing your argument on those workers, and those sustainable practices, and those shoppers who want to feel good about themselves, your abstractions remain abstract.
I’ve run out of time, but what I think I’m looking at here, Honeysuckle, is a condensed version of your entire paper. It’s not so much a Definition/Categorical argument as it is a first draft of a 3000-word paper that will get expanded in each of its parts.
That’s OK. You’re doing good work, and the separation of the effort into three 1000-word papers is pretty arbitrary in the first place.
I think you COULD revise this to be a Def/Cat essay by concentrating on the difference between Fast Fashion and Slow Fashion.
I have graded your draft at Canvas. The next step is for you to respond to this feedback, then make significant revisions to this post, and then request a regrade. If you desire more feedback, you’ll have to ask me specific questions.