I used to buy a lot of fast fashion every month. My shopping habits completely changed in 2016 when I learned about the catastrophic social and environmental impact of fast fashion.
As consumers, we should boycott fast fashion by showing brands and retailers that we care about where and how our clothes are being made. Every fast fashion brand must take massive action to reduce pollution, waste, water, and energy consumption.
I used to buy my clothes from fast fashion retail giants such as H&M, Gap, Primark, and Zara quite frequently. I am now a slow fashion advocate.
I cannot enter a fast fashion store without feeling overwhelmed and confused by the mass-production of new, cheap, and trendy clothing at lightning speed.
Being aware of the consequences of my purchasing decisions changed everything. Even if shopping for new clothes is fun, there are now many ways to do it more responsibly than buying fast fashion.
That raises the following questions: why should we boycott fast fashion? Is giving up on fast fashion the way to go?
What's wrong with fast fashion
It's very rewarding to find and take home cheap stylish clothing. Fast fashion is highly popular because of its benefits for modern consumers.
If you still buy fast fashion at the moment and find it difficult to resist, read up my article on the top 10 reasons why fast fashion is so popular. It will help you make better purchasing decisions.
Fashion is a rapidly growing industry. Fast fashion is the major contributor to its growth. It's difficult to imagine a world without any textiles. Buying clothing has become easier, cheaper, and faster. Apparel production has doubled globally to meet consumers' demand over the last 15 years.
The global fashion industry is one of the biggest industries in the world. It's generating USD 2.5 trillion in global annual revenues.
But trendy clothes have become disposable commodities. Fast fashion is the manifestation of the throwaway culture. The overproduction and overconsumption of cheaply made clothing has an enormous cost.
The textile and apparel industry is the second-largest polluter globally. It's responsible for huge textile waste, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of air, land, and water.
To understand the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment, check out my article on the fashion industry's catastrophic contribution to climate change.
The global apparel and footwear industry accounts for 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions. 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent were released in the atmosphere in 2017. That number will increase by 50% by 2030 if the trend continues.
Americans alone create 16.9 million tons of textile waste each year. The fashion industry produces 20% of the world's wastewater during farming and manufacturing processes such as bleaching and dyeing.
In the world's poorest countries where labor costs are very low, farmers and garment factory workers produce cheap clothing for fast fashion brands and retailers.
They are forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions for low wages. They don't have access to healthcare or paid leaves.
Many fast fashion brands use inhumane manufacturing methods to cheaply produce low-quality and disposable clothing. Read up my article on the fashion brands that still use sweatshops to find out who they are.
It's hard to believe that so many issues remain unsolved today in the clothing industry. Fast fashion has disastrous effects on the planet, the people, and animals living on it. It's not ethical or sustainable. We must boycott fast fashion.
Why should we boycott fast fashion
Fast fashion promotes the throwaway culture in our modern society. It makes low-quality and cheap clothing that today's consumers consider disposable.
Fast fashion brands replace old items quickly with new collections inspired by the latest trends to keep up with consumer's demand. But it's now possible to find affordable and stylish options without abusing people and destroying the planet.
Follow my guide on the top 10 solutions to the fast fashion industry to start saving money and protect the environment at the same time when buying clothes.
Fast fashion also represents the culture of instant gratification. People love fast fashion because it provides joy, excitement, and adrenaline.
Many people feel addicted to fast fashion. They buy cheaply made trendy clothing because it's pleasurable and makes them feel good. In most cases, they don't buy new clothes because they need them.
There are many advantages of fast fashion for consumers. But fast fashion is very harmful to the environment and workers in supply chains.
By boycotting fast fashion, you feel so much better about your purchase decisions. You are making an immense positive impact on fashion as a whole. And you protect the environment, people, and animal lives.
Read up my article on is it okay to buy fast fashion or should you quit if you aren't convinced yet.
What to do instead of fast fashion
Luckily, the green movement is booming. Conscious consumers now understand the destructive impact that fast fashion brands have on the planet, the people, the animals on land, and in the oceans.
To appeal to mindful consumers, fast fashion brands often display themselves in an environmentally friendly manner. They make misleading claims about the environmental impact of their activities to appear greener than they are.
Many fast fashion brands and retailers are greenwashing, even if it's illegal. It's the easiest solution because they don't have the willingness or the ability to change their business model.
Read up my article on fashion brands that are greenwashing to make more profits in the rapidly growing market for ethical and sustainable products.
In America, 40% of all consumers now choose green products over other options. They care about how their clothes are being made. Along with price, style, and accessibility, they pay more attention to the sustainability of the products they buy.
Environmentally friendly consumer behavior is a global phenomenon happening in many countries around the world. It's not only present in the fashion industry but also concerns food, automobile, consumer electronics, personal care, and cosmetics.
Fast fashion is responsible for high rates of natural resource extraction, energy and water consumption, pollution, waste generation, and carbon emissions.
Now more than ever before, we must transform the linear model of take-make-waste present traditionally in the fashion industry into a more regenerative and circular economy.
We must encourage the fashion industry to make positive changes. Fast fashion brands should make progress toward more sustainable and ethical manufacturing practices.
Consumers have a key role to play in the fashion revolution calling for change. Reading clothing labels and thinking about how our clothes are being made is the first step.
One of the best ways to be more sustainable with clothes is to buy less and higher quality clothing overall. Taking better care of what we already own also helps tremendously.
And we can give our clothes a second life when we consider selling them. Follow my guide on how to sell unwanted clothes to learn about excellent places to make extra cash and limit textile waste.
It's not realistic to ask fast fashion brands and retailers to become 100% sustainable tomorrow. It would have a disastrous impact on the economy, making millions of people unemployed in the process.
But ethical and slow fashion is the way to go. The transition to sustainable fashion is bound to happen over the coming years. Both large fashion companies and the general public will have to change and adapt. Why not start today?
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.