Are the Latest Trends Worth Illegal Labor and Pollution?

Dear Editor,

Fast fashion is the term used to describe the mass production and swift disposal of inexpensive, trendy fashion apparel from companies such as Shein, Zara and H&M.   Fast fashion has a significant negative impact on the environment because it uses a lot of energy, water, and other resources in its production. Fast fashion businesses have come under fire for their harmful effects on the environment, and there is growing pressure on them to embrace more environmentally friendly and ethical practices. In addition to environmental harm, the fast fashion industry has continued to break the law with its illegal and unethical work environment. Is the environmental harm worth it to keep up with the latest trends?

Much of the factual evidence about fast fashion can be very alarming, and perhaps most people are unaware of the conditions and causes of fast fashion. Simple Human Rights are being violated to be able to produce these fast fashion garments. From an article on written by Alex Assoune, it states that “ Many factory workers are paid below the legal minimum wage, forced to work long hours in unsafe environments, don’t have access to healthcare or paid leaves.” A lot of the people working in these factories are children in countries such as Bangladesh, Philippines and Sri Lanka. A lot of the workers choose to stay working in these poor conditions because this is the only way to provide food for their poor families. These fast fashion clothes are also taking a toll on our environment. In an article from, it states that “ the three main industries global pollution impacts are dyeing and finishing (36%), yarn preparation ( 28%), and fiber production ( 15%).” These are all aspects that are used in fast fashion. The pollution has begun to impact freshwater withdrawal as stated in the article. Rivers and streams are being polluted due to these cheap and “disposable” clothing items. The environment is being harmed in order to create fashion items “fastly” to keep up with the world and its trends. 

I believe more people are not aware of what they are buying and who they are buying it from. With the heavy power of social media and its trends, people are not thinking before making purchases. However, if we keep going in this direction our environment will continue to grow into a fragile state. With this day and age many of the people who are trying to keep up with the latest trends are millennials and “ gen z” who want to find the “dupes” for everything expensive.  In  this case, fast fashion becomes their first choice. However, no one is asking themselves who is making these clothes? What products are they being made out of? Are the people producing these clothes getting paid fairly? I guarantee you know one thing about this. Everyone needs to become more aware of the ugly mess behind these big companies and start to move their spending to more sustainable and reliable companies, by researching more about a company before you decide to hit that pay button.  

Maya Bahu, DVC student