Lockdown has caused a surge of one of my guiltiest pleasures—online shopping.

At the touch of a finger, we’re able to search for the clothing we want and buy it almost instantaneously, all without having to leave our bedroom. I’ve been able to channel my inner Ariana Grande and say, “I want it, I got it.”

Die Carolin Kebekus Show via GIPHY.

But, with this surge of online shopping comes consequences.

The clothes we buy at amazing prices have a much darker truth behind them and it all revolves around the fast fashion industry.

But, wait. What is fast fashion anyway?

GIF by PRI - Find & Share on GIPHY
The World, animated via GIPHY.

Well, according to Good On You, fast fashion is a term coined to describe “cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand.”

This all sounds promising—cheap clothing that’ll have me looking like my favourite influencers; what’s not to like? But, like many good things, there are often repercussions. Fast fashion preys on consumption and the following of new trends, meaning that most of the clothing shopped won’t last very long and will likely end up being thrown away or donated once the trends and crazes fads.

So, asides from the fact that these fashion pieces aren’t built to last—what is the real issue with that $5 fit you just purchased?

The issue with fast fashion

Climate Change Fashion GIF by Canco - Find & Share on GIPHY
Climate Change Fashion By Canco via GIPHY.

Popular fast fashion brands like Fashion Nova, Shein, Nasty Gal, Pretty Little Thing and so many more have become online empires in recent years for creating cheap dupes for some high fashion apparel. These affordable price tags allow for consumers to live the high fashion lifestyle they desire for a fraction of larger brands’ prices.

Hasan Minhaj Netflix GIF by Patriot Act - Find & Share on GIPHY
Hasan Minhaj Netflix Show “Patriot Act” via GIPHY.

The reason behind these cheap price tags is mainly due to the use of slave labour. These brands get away with paying illegally low prices to workers by outsourcing their labour to developing countries, which and this is not limited to online retailers. Stores we know at the mall like Zara and Walmart’s brand, George are infamously known for their use of slave labour—and these are just some examples. According to Vox, these billion-dollar companies often get away with paying their workers as little as 19 cents for a product that costs us $19.99 to buy.

In addition to the low wages these workers face, they are also subject to hostile and unsafe work environments. The 2013 collapse of the Bangladesh Dhaka garment factory, which  manufactured clothing for brands such as Gucci, Joe Fresh, and Walmart, resulted in a death toll of over 1,134 workers. Despite the destruction of the building, workers were also forced to return to work the following day.

If this isn’t enough, fast fashion comes with environmental detriments as well.

Apparel and footwear production accounts for 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and over 10 million tonnes of clothing are thrown into landfills yearly, with the average Canadian throwing out 81 tonnes early.

With a vast majority of textiles made of synthetic fibres, this also means that the clothing that does end up in landfills, will not decompose.

Fast fashion and the theory of consumption creates irreversible damage for the world and people in it.

So, what can you do to help?

Women’s fashion via GIPHY.

But, there is hope. There are tons of ways YOU can make a difference by living and shopping more sustainably.

1. Shop sustainably

GIF by Wantering - Find & Share on GIPHY
Wantering via GIPHY.

Though shopping for cheap deals is not sustainable, there are ways to get your shopping fix that’ll help you and the planet.

Try shopping from sustainable, ethical brands instead of your usual fast fashion buy. Not only will these purchases help the planet and limit the impact that the fast fashion industry has, but it will also likely help smaller businesses flourish. With COVID-19, heavily impacting small businesses with countless closures, it is more important now than ever to support small businesses by shopping small.

2. Try thrifting

Music Video Vintage GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Thrift Shop by Macklemore via GIPHY.

Sometimes, the higher price tag that comes with ethical brands is unattainable for consumers and that’s OK; there are still options to buy inexpensive, sustainable clothing.

Buying secondhand clothing is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint while getting unique clothing pieces. One of the many benefits of thrifting is that you can find cheap clothing, and often find pieces that nobody else has. Look, look around your local thrift store and I’m certain you’ll find some hidden gems that you can’t find anywhere else – all for a small price tag. 

And, if you have clothing that doesn’t fit quite right anymore, donate them to those in need, sell them on online hubs like Carousell or Poshmark, or donate them to thrift shops to give your pre-loved clothing another home.

3. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Truck Recycling GIF by ONgov - Find & Share on GIPHY
Recycling truck via GIPHY.

Reduce! Another good tip is to practice restraint when it comes to shopping. Before you buy, ask yourself the following questions: do I really need this? Will I actually wear this? Is this going to last me a long time, or will it get ruined after a few uses? Does this brand align with my values? If the answer to these is no, skip the buy.

Reuse! Have you gotten tired of clothing pieces and know you won’t wear them anymore? Do they need a revamp? Well, there are many creative ways to repurpose old clothing to make them useful all over again.

Recycle! Sometimes, clothes become too old to wear or become unwearable due to rips or stains. If it’s time to say goodbye to clothing pieces follow guidelines on how to dispose of old clothing properly. A lot of the clothing you own can actually be recycled, and many brands, such as North Face, accept old clothing for them to recycle themselves—making it that much easier on you.

Climate Change Earth by United Nations Human Rights via GIPHY.

Now, I know the switch to a more sustainable lifestyle will not be easy, but trust me, it’ll be oh-so-worth-it.

Don’t forget to share how you’re living more sustainably on our Instagram @SustainHumber!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: