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Foul Fast Fashion

Updated: 4 days ago

Tragedy, low wages, miserable working conditions, and exploitation have always been linked to the clothing industry.  From the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911 to present day sweatshops dotted throughout the world, the burden of getting people dressed has fallen on women and children. The scale is staggering, it’s estimated that 250 million children worldwide work in sweatshops.  A hungry/terrified/exhausted five-year old struggling to do their job is a far more appropriate brand image for over-priced t-shirts destined to be worn once or twice.  


Lest we think this is only an overseas problem, the sad truth is too many states in America are trying to expedite hurling children into dangerous jobs. From food processing to automotive factories, children- by any legal or physical definition- are pushed into giving up studying geometry to handle jobs that can imperil adults.


Back to clothing.  And Fast Fashion.  No people, young influencers et. al. are not

fasting- meaning giving up- massive buying, but are in fact seeking out cheap and trendy outfits. In a mobius strip of scenarios/ the young folks- mostly girls- don't want to wear pieces more than a few times, which is just as well since the cheap garments do not allow long term usage. What's the harm?  Everything.


The people making these crappy clothes are exploited.  Too many sweatshops use poor women and young children who have no influence. Most areas don’t even possess minimum labor protections and regulations. Wage theft- for their meager pay- is unsurprisingly rampant.


In 1960 95% of clothing worn by Americans was made here.  In this country.  By 2015, it had dropped to 3%. As a harbinger of things to come, 1960 was also when the founder of Nike came up with the idea to charge a lot of money for shoes but outsource production to save costs. The conditions for such foreign workers were so horrific that many implored Michael Jordan, a  company spokesman and eponymous sneaker for the company, to speak out. He famously declined.  


Back to fast fashion.  The target demographic for cheap goods is probably middle and high school students- offering a never-ending demand for poorly-made “trendy” items. Okay- so what's the damage…besides the ravaging of the environment/ and the exploitation of women and children throughout the world? Garbage.  The fast fashion industry produced nearly 100 million tons of garbage last year! Such a scale of waste is far too much, produced too quickly to handle domestically, and thus- this waste is sent to poorer nations to deal with. It’s a tsunami, an avalanche of discarded habiliments.  That is too fancy a world. Cheap tees and skirts et. al.


Ghana is a favorite dumping ground by American and European countries.  The amount of discarded clothing is so vast that it fills the nation's ocean and shorelines.  All the cheap chemicals and synthetic materials seep into the water and are absorbed by marine plants and fish. Bon appetit. The damage is so bad, Ghana has been described as a death pit.  


Thankfully, there has been a rising trend in thrifting, buying second-hand, and upcycling. These are crucial actions towards circularizing our economy and creating a more sustainable society. Frustratingly, the far reaching effects of the fast fashion flood have depressed clothing prices and distorted the entire industry, leaving few businesses able to turn a profit selling second-hand items.


This makes being smart, kind, conscious consumers determined to effect change one of the most powerful weapons that exists today. Buy less/ buy better. Be aware of the externalities and costs of your purchases and know the consequences of harvest/production/exploitation and demand more from retailers. Like public servants- they work for us. Support your neighborhood.  Find locally sourced food/ small and unrepresented businesses as well as others eager to find the best solutions for you and the planet. If you care about these issues, don’t just act alone, join together in growing solidarity and pursue transformational advocacy! And then... Don't Shop on Tuesday.






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