Fashion moves at breakneck speed. Consumers demand new clothing on an almost constant basis, and brands respond by producing, manufacturing and shipping styles faster than ever before to meet this high level of demand. While fast fashion brings many advantages for consumers, its industry also bears some costs such as worker harassment, environmental degradation and human rights violations that must be considered when considering its potential benefits and costs.
Garment workers are an essential component of fashion industry, yet we often overlook them as part of production costs have decreased and profit driven production has led to wages, health and worker safety being sacrificed in pursuit of lower production costs.
While improvements have been made since the Rana Plaza tragedy of 2013, much work remains in this industry. Aside from inadequate wages and working conditions, child labor and modern slavery still occur at an alarmingly high rate – this system being particularly detrimental for women.
Even so, many consumers remain ignorant to the issues in fashion industry. Companies may avoid responsibility by outsourcing production of clothes from third-party factories; this allows them to sidestep any wrongdoing committed by suppliers and makes it hard for these companies to hold them accountable.
Workers exposed to this business model often suffer harassment, unsafe or unclean factories and long hours as a result. Women workers in particular may experience sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace. Furthermore, workers may even be exposed to toxic chemicals without proper protection, leading to respiratory ailments, hormone disruptions, gastrointestinal disorders and even fatalities.
These issues don’t only impact workers in garment factories; they also have far-reaching ramifications on the environment. Textile manufacturing causes water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and increased landfill space usage due to fast fashion’s throwaway culture, which generates massive clothing waste that ends up polluting oceans and depleting natural resources.
Consumers can help end fast fashion’s cycle by selecting more sustainable and ethical brands with fair production processes. Consumers must also educate themselves about their favorite brands and understand their impact on global economy and environment, so as to be an agent of good and advocate for fair trade practices within fashion industry. As soon as we all come together and demand better for global workforces, we can begin to see changes in how clothing is manufactured – ultimately leading to more responsible and eco-friendly fashion industries. For starters, we should all reduce consumption of fast fashion by only purchasing what is necessary – this way helping ensure workers who produce our clothes get fair wages, safe working conditions and an eco-friendly work environment.