For people of all ages, shopping can be the perfect opportunity to release stress or pass the time. As a hobby, shopping can be done casually by wandering through the stores of a local mall or strip plaza. Routine shoppers may not purchase items every time they embark on a shopping trip. Rather, some prefer to freely window shop by observing available stock outside of retail stores.

While this may seem harmless in comparison to other hobbies, many routine shoppers remain unaware of how their actions directly lead to negative consequences. Through innocent intentions, modern consumers are massively supporting the fast fashion industry and its upsetting effects on the world.

Before we explore strategies to avoid fast fashion, it is important to define what fast fashion truly is. The term “fast fashion” refers to a business model used by most clothing companies. Within the fast fashion model, clothing is produced at an uncommonly short rate. While it usually takes six to eight months for designs to make it into stores, fast fashion can accelerate the process to just three months. Characterized by the pressure to respond to demands, the fast fashion industry is all about quick turnover.

The fast fashion industry is widely understood to have harmful effects on the environment. 100 billion articles of clothing are produced each year, which is roughly 14 items per person on Earth. This itself is an example of how fast fashion results in overproduction and unnecessary waste, as almost 85% of discarded textiles come from unwanted clothing. Rejected pieces of clothing are typically dumped in landfills located in impoverished countries, which lowers the quality of life for ecosystems and citizens alike.

The wasteful practices of fast fashion does not only include textiles. Fast fashion has been directly linked to mass amounts of water waste. Fashion production as a whole uses a whopping 93 billion cubic metres of water annually, as water is needed to harvest natural materials alone. This shocking figure also includes garment creation, seeing as though nearly 7000 litres are required to dye a pair of jeans.

In addition, the constant need to produce new clothing leaves little time for materials to be naturally sourced. Instead, it is cheaper and faster to create clothing with alternative fabrics. An estimated 60% of clothing is made of plastic derivatives, including nylon and polyester. These textiles seriously threaten the quality of the environment, as caring for them can release microplastics into oceans through washing machines.

Due to the makeup of common fabrics, around 500,000 tons of microplastics are unleashed into the ocean yearly, equal to 50 billion plastic water bottles. If that is not concerning enough, plastic-based materials are estimated to take 200 years to properly decompose, making them even more detrimental to the Earth.

If the startling ecological impacts of fast fashion are not enough to intimidate you, this industry has a similarly worrying effect on workers. Typically, the fast fashion model is used by companies that source clothing development across the world in third-world countries. At these factories, the emphasis is only on the clothes and the need to satisfy the market. As a result, workers are forced to produce garments at a speed that compromises their mental and physical health.

In nations such as India, China, and Indonesia, garment workers face inhumane working conditions. To keep up with the trend cycle, brands force their employees to work tirelessly to meet demands. It is not uncommon for garment workers to be paid extremely low wages for nearly full days of work. The average work day for someone in the fast fashion industry can go up to 16 hours of labour with no breaks, and a take-home pay of just under $3. Many of these workers are women who are exposed to toxic chemicals while completing daily tasks and ultimately living in poverty. Garment factories in third-world countries tend to be dirty, worn down, and free of any safety rule enforcement.

Educating yourself on fast fashion can broaden your knowledge of the industry and its severe problems. Learning about these issues helps you understand the troubles of fast fashion, but can understandably leave you feeling frustrated. Upon learning of poor working conditions and environmental damage, most people worry about their involvement with the industry. Luckily, there are several ways to continue shopping as a hobby without supporting fast fashion.

How you can avoid fast fashion and unnecessary waste while shopping:

  • Go thrifting
  • Visit warehouse or liquidation sales
  • Research which brands cause the most harm
  • Buy materials that are known to last, such as cotton
  • Recycle or donate clothes you no longer need

The fast fashion industry may not be going anywhere anytime soon. However, you as a consumer have the power to make informed decisions that can ultimately reduce the impact of fast fashion. Through education, the fashion industry can be fought against by those aware of its effects on global citizens and ecosystems. If you are interested in the topic of fast fashion, visit the source material at the Earth.Org website.

Educating kids on the state of world issues, such as pollution and the fashion industry, can be beneficial toward comprehension of basic topics. When young people are allowed to learn about present-day matters, they can form individual opinions and even change their behaviours for the better. If you would like to further your child’s awareness, the iMatter program is an excellent tool. Through quality workshops and other opportunities, iMatter informs children about social causes. For more information visit the iMatter website or contact Canyon Entertainment Group via info(at)