Fast Fashion and Disposable Clothing


I read an interesting article today that taught me a few new things about the clothing industry. Admittedly, there is very little I know about the clothing industry, but I did find the content of the article quite interesting.

The first thing I learned is the term “fast fashion”, which I had never heard of. According to Wikipedia, fast fashion refers to trends that are designed and manufactured quickly and cheaply to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price.This philosophy of quick manufacturing at an affordable price is used in large retailers such as H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo. I’ve been to H&M and Uniqlo, since my children like to shop there, I just never knew that there was a term that referred to the type of fashion that was available at such stores. I have not heard of Zara.

The article I read looked at the environmental and social impact of the fast fashion industry. As part of the discussion, the authors claim that the fast fashion industry has encouraged consumers to view such clothing as low-cost, disposable items that can be purchased casually and discarded frequently.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average person in the U.S. discards 90 pounds of textiles per year. Of this amount, Americans only donate or recycle about 15% of their used clothing, the rest ends up in a landfill. Thus, it is argued that the fast fashion industry is contributing to our ever-growing landfills.

However, there seems to be some movement by these retailers to be more environmentally friendly, to move towards what some are calling “slow fashion”. For example, H&M has a “Conscious Collection,” a line of organic cotton fashions designed to appeal to the conscientious customer.

In addition, many retailers are providing recycling bins in their stores to encourage consumers to be more pro-active with how they dispose of clothing.

But perhaps the most shocking statistic I read was that the average American buys 68 pieces of clothing per year, accounting for 3% of his or her annual income! If that’s true, that means that there is someone out there buying 134 pieces of clothing per year to average out with the two pieces of clothing per year that I might buy.

So apparently there’s more than just a monetary advantage to being a cheapskate and a fashion laggard when it comes to clothing, I’m doing something good for the environment as well.

And now I’ve armed myself with some cold, hard facts that I can answer my wife with when she says that I need some new clothing…


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