And when the bottom line is the only consideration (and not the lives of the workers, or the quality of the product), it makes sense that companies are operating this way. If consumers will only buy cheap clothing, then you must produce and sell more of it to keep up. It’s just business, right?
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a system I want to support. The maddening part, though, is that fast fashion is ubiquitous: Most of us don’t know where our clothes come from, and finding out can be nearly impossible. Companies can write up policies saying that they have a commitment to being environmentally friendly – without actually incorporating any sustainable practices.
When you add in lingering post-recession attitudes toward cutting back and not spending money on items perceived to be unnecessary (such as new/trendy clothing), getting a deal on a cute top or pair of pants is a great feeling – you get the reward of a new item without the guilt of making a major investment. The fashion industry recognizes that it’s in our nature to enjoy getting something new for a low cost.
And even though I personally am equipped with this information, it’s still difficult. I find myself taking the easy route from time to time, because it’s cheap and convenient to do so.
So what can be done?
The best answer is to start with one thing at a time. For me, that has meant simply becoming more conscious about my shopping habits. It means not spending a day at the mall, and instead spending time outdoors. It means thinking ahead to what my next “staple” clothing item should be, and doing the research to see whether there is a local, sustainable, ethically-produced brand that meets that need.