Fast Fashion vs. Sustainability: Clothes Impact on the Earth


Artwork by Dall-E

A fashionable teenager throws away clothes to buy new ones while the Earth looks on with disappointment.

Global awareness of environmental issues has been growing over the last couple of decades. With this, people have become more aware of their carbon footprint and conscious of their consumerism. They are looking for ways to make their lifestyle more eco-friendly.

The rise of fast fashion has led more environmental advocates to pioneer this eco-friendly fashion. “What is fast fashion,” you may ask. Fast fashion is characterized as low-cost, fashionable clothes that quickly respond to customer demand. The aim is to get the newest trends on the market as soon as possible, so customers can scoop them up while they are still at the height of their popularity, then abandon the piece after a few wears.

These concerns have brought forth the birth of sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion is a method used by manufacturers to design apparel that has less of an environmental effect but also takes into account the laborers who make the outfits. It is simply clothing that has been produced ethically and sustainably.

Efforts made by companies such as Reformations, Outerknown, and Everlane, a few bigger brands that pride themselves on being ethically sourced and are attempting to combat the ever-growing environmental crisis being caused by fast fashion.

Another reason that people may want to turn their backs on the fast fashion industry is their ethics. Fast fashion is highly labor dependent, it is not uncommon for the fashion industry to outsource labor with inhumane working conditions, long hours, and little pay.

Whether big or little, adopting sustainable habits can have a big influence over time. These are just a couple of different ways to help the environment when it comes to your closet.

  • Thrifting! Buying second-hand is a great way to introduce new and pre-loved pieces into your wardrobe. This gives clothing a new and long life. You can either try going to a charity shop, such as Goodwill or, if you can’t make it in person, there are great online consignment stores such as ThredUP and with hundreds of clothes at a fraction of the price.
  • Fixing and mending your clothes is a good way of giving a little extra life to your stuff.
  • Reusing your old clothes Making something new or even using them as clothes for whatever you’d like.
  • Renting a wardrobe. One of the best ways to wear sustainable fashion today, especially for special events, is to rent clothing. You may experiment with new styles while renting clothing without consuming space in your wardrobe or adding to landfill debris.
  • Invest in your clothes. Quality over quantity. Buying high-quality, timeless pieces is a great way to give your wardrobe a long life. Select pieces that won’t go out of style or that can be styled in many different ways. Picking well-made items will also prevent your articles of clothing from deteriorating over time.
  • Taft students! There is a great opportunity for you to start a sustainable wardrobe right here at school, The L’atelier Boutique, run by Ms. Viadero, is located in the lower C building. You are free to explore at any time during nutrition, lunch, and even during class (with a pass from your teacher of course). You are sure to discover something you enjoy here for yourself or a friend. All of the clothing offered is secondhand and comes in a range of styles.