The Real Cost Of Fast Fashion
Updated: Dec 9, 2021
The cost of a stylish t-shirt from a fast-fashion brand may seem like a bargain at €5, but the social, human, and environmental costs may outweigh the difference.
Fast fashion refers to clothing items that are on-trend, cheap, manufactured in huge quantities and sold to the consumer as soon as possible. Because these items are priced so low people can afford to revamp their wardrobes several times a year, often with styles that are regurgitated from the previous year.
Underpaid and overworked in poor conditions
Fast fashion brands have changed the way that people buy and dispose of clothes. They send a clear message to the consumer-“it's ok to buy it because it's cheap, right?”.
Fast fashion may come at a higher price than you may think. These items are often manufactured in developing countries where working conditions are poor, and wages are extremely low. This is how these brands can sell at such a low price. The conditions which workers endure in these facilities have been highlighted in the media with cases of factories in places such as Bangladesh collapsing or going on fire due to poor structure and lack of consideration given to workplace conditions.
These issues are now coming closer to home. In June 2020 campaign group Labour Behind The Label released a report detailing evidence that they had found regarding a well-known clothing brand’s manufacturing facility in Leicester, UK. Despite lockdown restrictions, the facility continued to operate at 100% capacity, with workers being mostly from ethnic minority groups. The facility was reported to be cramped with thousands of employees. The facility also did not accommodate for social distancing, ventilation of correct sanitising stations. In addition, works where told to still come to work despite showing symptoms of Covid19.
There is an abundance of fast fashion clothing items because they are manufactured in such large quantities. As a result, many items end up being disposed of in incinerators which releases harmful CO2 emissions into the air. People also dispose of fast fashion items more so than other items as they tend to be of low quality and become easily worn over time. CO2 is a major greenhouse gas and a contributing factor to global warming. These emissions are also associated with the production of clothing items (textile production).
It is difficult to not be tempted by the cheap items fast fashion brands offer such as a stylish €5 t-shirt. But when we truly consider the garment production process involved it's impossible to truly justify that €5 "bargain".