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Re-Thinking Retail Therapy: 4 Environmental Risks of Fast Fashion

Retail Therapy? Think Again

The recent rise of fast fashion as a one stop shop for quick and easy access to the latest fashion trends at a fraction of the cost of legacy brands is a worrying trend for environmentalists. Whilst the so-called democratisation of fashion through offering high end designs for cheap has been great for consumers on the surface, the long term impact of the quick turnaround on new products and expedited disposal of clothes by consumers is something that is often overlooked.

In this blog post, we will explore the growth of the fast fashion industry in recent years and the environmental impacts of fast fashion business practices. Read until the end for some ways you can be a part of the solution and become a more conscious consumer!


Why Is The Fast Fashion Market Emerging Now?

Fast fashion has become increasingly popular over recent years due to a combination of factors that cater to consumer demands and behaviours. This trend has revolutionised the fashion industry and reshaped the way people buy and consume clothing. Several key reasons contribute to the immense popularity of fast fashion.


1 | Affordable Pricing

Fast fashion brands are known for offering trendy clothing at exceptionally low prices. This affordability appeals to a broad range of consumers, including students, young professionals, and budget-conscious individuals.

2 | Quick Turnaround

The essence of fast fashion lies in its ability to rapidly bring new styles from the runway to the store shelves. These brands can create and distribute new designs within weeks, capitalising on the latest trends while they're still fresh in the minds of consumers. This quick turnaround keeps shoppers coming back for more, as they are consistently presented with new options.

3 | Social Media and Online Shopping

The rise of social media platforms and e-commerce has significantly contributed to the popularity of fast fashion. These platforms act as catalysts in spreading fashion trends worldwide. Users can easily discover new styles, share outfit ideas, and instantly purchase clothing through online stores, further fuelling the demand for fast fashion products.

4 | Fast-Changing Trends

Fast fashion thrives on the concept of ever-changing trends. Styles that were once considered fashionable can become outdated in a matter of weeks. The industry's ability to adapt quickly to changing preferences ensures that consumers always have something new and exciting to buy.

In essence, fast fashion uses social media and data on fashion trends to give the consumer exactly what they want at an affordable price and with incredible speed. The faster the company can get you to purchase their product without thinking about the environmental or social impacts of your purchase the better it is for them.


How Big Is The Market For Fast Fashion?

 From just a surface level view of the overall market value of fast fashion companies, we can see a clear upward trend with 10-20% year on year growth, showing that fast fashion is a trend that is not slowing down. As the amount of money consumers have for discretionary spending decreases, we can expect to see more and more fast fashion purchases as people will care less about their environmental impact and more about getting the best bargain possible.


4 Environmental Risks of Fast Fashion

You may be asking, what are the specific negative impacts of fast fashion? Here are just a few that are most prominent.

1 | Excessive Resource Consumption

Fast fashion relies on the mass production of clothing, leading to high consumption of resources such as water, energy, and raw materials. The production of textiles, particularly cotton, is water-intensive and often involves the use of harmful chemicals.

2 | Water Pollution

The dyeing and finishing processes in fast fashion production release a substantial amount of toxic chemicals into water bodies, leading to water pollution. These chemicals can have devastating effects on aquatic ecosystems and the communities that depend on clean water sources.

3| Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The production, transportation, and disposal of fast fashion garments generate significant greenhouse gas emissions. This includes carbon dioxide from energy-intensive manufacturing processes and methane from decomposing textiles in landfills.

4 | Unsustainable Consumption

Fast fashion encourages a culture of "throwaway fashion," where clothing is often discarded after a few wears, contributing to the rapid depletion of resources and an increase in waste.


Here's What You Can Do About It

Don’t be fooled by fast-fashion’s low costs, because some things are too good to be true. If a product is being sold to you at such a low cost, think about why it is that the product is able to be sold for so cheap, and think about the environmental and societal costs not included in the monetary price you are paying. These costs don’t just go away, they are paid by all of us down the line when we have to spend money to get rid of the enormous amount of waste fast fashion produces.

Buying clothes made of biodegradable or recyclable materials is always the best option, but if this isn’t available to you buy a few high quality pieces of clothing that will last a long time instead of buying copious amounts of low quality fast fashion garments only to throw them away. You might not look as fashionable, but the environment will thank you.




Thank you for reading! If you found this blog post informative and inspiring, share it with your friends and spread the message of sustainability.