What is Fast Fashion and Why It’s Bad for the Environment

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Fast fashion companies sell trendy clothing at low prices.  

 Undoubtedly, it has changed our mindset when it comes to clothing, by giving us instant gratification after finding a surprisingly cheap buy.  

But is a bargain really worth the life of the planet? 

At BUFF®, as a B Corp company, we take the health of the planet seriously; that’s why we have decided to inform you of the consequences of buying and supporting fast fashion.  

Definition of Fast Fashion

As we said, fast fashion refers to the rapid production and delivery of trendy clothing, often at very low prices.  

Fast fashion garments and items mimic the latest fashion trends, but without the high cost often associated with high fashion.  

Plus, they usually are made with cost-effective materials 

History of Fast Fashion

Even though the origin of fast fashion can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution, it rose in popularity in the mid-70s. It started to be the go-to production method, especially in the 1990s. 

So, brands started to produce numerous collections each year, imitating runway styles, and quickly brought them to market.  

They realized that it was the perfect business method, because of the low cost of labor and materials, coupled with the lack of regulation.  

The result is that, until recently, fast fashion has been the go-to of many brands that wanted to reduce costs, but at the same time keep up with the change in trends. 

Right now, the paradigm is changing, because of a rising concern generated by consumers and brands that want to bet on a healthier planet.  

3 Data about fast fashion

Fast fashion’s impact on the environment, workers, animals, and consumers is concerning. Here are 3 quick facts:  

  • Every second, the equivalent of 1 garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill. World Economic Forum (2020) 
  • It accounts for 10% of global pollution (Niinimäki et al., 2020; UN Fashion Alliance, 2021) 
  • 66 fires were started in factories around the globe, in just one month. (Green Peace) 

But we want to show you a number that also inspires hope:  

75% of consumers will choose eco-friendly brands because sustainability is a very important aspect when purchasing. (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). 

Why Is It Bad?

It has a deep impact on many levels: the environment, the local communities, and so much more.  

Bad for the Planet

These are 2 main reasons why fast fashion is affecting the life of our planet.  

  • Overproduction: a huge amount of textile production means that much of this output ends up going unused or disposed of. This relentless production pollutes the environment, squandering energy, water and other vital resources. 
  • Low-quality materials: to keep prices low and turnover high, fast fashion brands often use cheap, low-quality materials, not built to last, creating a cycle of waste and pollution.  

Bad for the workers

Cheap materials and cheap labor too. This exploitation in the fast fashion industry has far-reaching consequences for the workers. Due to the lack of regulation, workers face 

  • Low wages. 
  • Long working hours.  
  • Unsafe and poor working conditions cause injuries or even deaths in the workplace.  

Bad for the animals

Fast fashion affects animals in 2 ways: it impacts those animals that live in environments polluted by fast fashion, and it impacts animal welfare when materials like fur, leather, and wool may be sourced unethically.  

Bad for you

When buying from fast fashion brands, consumers are feeding a consumption lifecycle that can harm the planet. These items, as they are made with cheap materials, won’t last long, and could even cause a problem for sensitive skin 

Will fast fashion every go away?

Fast fashion is difficult to sustain, but shoppers are growing more aware of its negative impact on the environment and its unsustainable pattern.  

The rising unpopularity of this type of production, plus governments and legislators implementing new laws trying to stop the massive production, are slowly making a change.  

For instance, to make sure that European goods are up to date with our commitment to sustainability, the European Union passed a new Ecodesign regulation. This regulation will inform consumers on how sustainable the product is that they are about to buy. 

So, yes, we think that fast fashion is slowly coming to an end.  

sustainable dmn

What can you do against fast fashion?

You can make a difference. You can help reduce the impact of fast fashion with 3 simple actions:  

  • Supporting sustainable and ethical fashion brands. 
  • Making more conscious and informed choices. 
  • Donating old clothing to charities. 

How does BUFF® fight fast fashion?

BUFF® promotes ethical and sustainable fashion practices. We are actively part of the change thanks to our practices:  

  • We reduce the carbon footprint by producing 90% of our clothing accessories locally. 
  • We recycled over 47M plastic bottles to make BUFF® products.  
  • 100% of the power in our factory and HQ is from renewable energy.  
  • We give purpose to young people with social exclusion risk with our Garment Making School 
  • We partner with organizations like POW (Protect Our Winters) to help preserve the nature we love.  
  • We yearly keep you up to date with our sustainability reports. 

You can be sure, next time you wander outdoors with your BUFF® product, that you’re helping the planet to have a sustainable future.  

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