For my final post that is included in this project, I wanted to leave you with some words of encouragement and actionable steps that you can take moving forward.
The whole point of this project was to explore something I am deeply passionate about and ultimately give you well thought out information that you can keep with you going forward. I want to point out that nobody is a perfect consumer. I know it’s easy to read these posts and beat yourself up about possibly not doing enough to combat fast fashion; trust me, I’ve been there too. However, the best thing we can do going forward is to remain educated and aware. All you need is an awareness of fast fashion in order to challenge its cycle! While cutting out fast fashion may be difficult for you to do now, start taking small steps in order to achieve the sustainable lifestyle you want. This could mean something as simple as reading an article about sustainability each day, or even setting up an account to resell your clothes instead of throwing them out. It’s all about the small things that you do, because those are what end up creating the big things.
I know that I’m not personally 100% “fast fashion free”; I have an abundance of clothes from retailers who support fast fashion, and while I’m not sure if my closet will ever be 100% sustainable, I know that with the knowledge I’ve gathered, I can make better choices going forward. This means educating myself through reading articles and watching videos, as well as getting hands on experience of talking with small business owners and figuring out how to support them. There is also so much more that I can do because the possibilities are endless when it comes to promoting sustainability and ethical fashion.
I sincerely wish that these posts are helpful and informative for you in some way. I spent a lot of time creating them and researching, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done thus far. In the future, I hope to also bring out more content with pertinent information highlighting real issues that are happening now in the fashion industry.
Here’s to combatting fast fashion even more in the future.
I thought I would make a blog post including resources for combating fast fashion and practicing sustainability. I personally find it extremely helpful to follow accounts that promote these things, and I hope you can get some helpful information out of this as well.
The Sustainable Fashion Forum (@thesustainablefashionforum) – This account is great and so helpful while also using humor to explain how detrimental fast fashion is. There is also a podcast by the same account called Crash Course Fashion (you can find it on Spotify) where the host, Brittany Sierra, speaks with different business leaders and CEOs all about fashion that puts people and the environment first.
World Fair Trade Organization (@wfto_fairtrade) – The World Fair Trade Organization is a nonprofit that highlights business models that focus on ethics and sustainability. You can find communities and businesses all around the world that follow a Fair Trade model and are ultimately helping the planet.
Fashion Revolution (@fash_rev) – This is another great account that speaks out about topics like greenwashing and shopping secondhand. Their posts are inspirational and provide ideas on how to ultimately break up with fast fashion for good.
The True Cost – This is a great documentary to watch first and learn from. It highlights the economic impacts from fast fashion as well as giving you an inside look at the labor and poor working conditions that go into it.
RiverBlue – This is a documentary that focuses on water waste and how the fashion industry contributes to water pollution.
SLAY – This documentary focuses on animals and the use of fur and leather in the industry.
Good On You – As mentioned before, this is a great website to look through. They have so many posts about fast fashion and also include information on brands to avoid or shop from.
The Good Trade – This is an amazing website that has editorial pieces from different writers who all focus on self-care and sustainability. There’s an abundance of great, in-depth posts that you can read.
I’ve given you plenty of information at this point that highlights why fast fashion is harmful for humanity and the environment. However, many people still find fast fashion to yield benefits in their favor. In today’s post, I will discuss some of the benefits of fast fashion as a way to propose another set of views.
The most obvious benefit from fast fashion is that it’s affordable. Sure, some fast fashion stores have profited off of the fact that many people are trying to buy their items, so they’ve raised the prices a little bit. However, most stores still sell items that are going to be much less expensive than if you were to shop at a 100% locally and ethically sourced store. For example, if you chose to go on a website like Shein, you’re going to be able to buy multiple items for a rather inexpensive amount.
Fast fashion is also accessible. When you think of fast fashion retailers, a lot of the time their company is global, so the clothing that you’re seeing sold here in America is also being sold overseas. This allows consumers to get their hands on items from basically anywhere in the world. If you need something new to wear and aren’t at home, it’s no worries at all because fast fashion allows you to engage with it from different areas of the world.
There’s also the promise of trendy clothing with fast fashion. Many people don’t want to invest a good portion of money on trendy pieces because of the fear that they will go out of style quickly. However, with fast fashion, there is a small commitment to the clothing you buy since it is so inexpensive.
Another positive from fast fashion is the fact that consumers have the promise of getting instant gratification when they shop (remember my piece about the psychology behind fast fashion?). Big fashion labels can make clothing at a faster rate and give it to their customers at an even faster rate, giving them the instant satisfaction one receives when using your purchasing power.
Lastly, fast fashion is good for big companies that can profit off of it. In the end, fast fashion comes down to the fact that we live in a society that is focused on consumerism and always having the latest and newest product. It’s an unfortunate truth to realize because we have to accept the fact that we are the ones driving forth this process.
As always, leave any comments or questions below and I’ll be happy to answer!
I think one of the most daunting things about fast fashion is the feeling of not knowing where to start when it comes to sustainability. We all know that we should be sustainable consumers, but as you can see throughout these posts, there’s many reasons why people aren’t shopping in sustainable ways. I don’t think you’re going to magically be able to make ethical and 100% guilt-free purchases overnight, but you can definitely start small and work your way into becoming the kind of consumer you want to be. I’ve listed some of my favorite ways to be sustainable down below!
Re-sell your old purchases. I don’t know about you guys, but I personally always try and sell my old clothing because not only is it an easy way to make some extra money, it’s also comforting for me to know that my old clothes are going somewhere they will be used. As I’ve mentioned before, so many clothes end up in landfills because they don’t get resold or worn again and instead are thrown out. My biggest tip is to list items even if you think no one is going to buy them because you’d be surprised at how much you can sell in just one week. My favorite apps for this are Depop, Mercari, and Poshmark.
Find small designers to support. When it comes to shopping, shopping at a small business is always preferable because you’re directly supporting a small company that can likely trace where their items are coming from and made. When we shop from big stores and corporations, we are supporting what they choose to do and how they spend the money they’re making from us. It feels better to shop small and know that I’m impacting someone who may really need the money I’m spending or my support. You can find small businesses to shop near you by doing a quick search, but I also would check out Etsy for some seriously cute and hand-crafted things.
Think before you buy. This is pretty self-explanatory, but thinking before you purchase something is really important. Consider how it was made, and who it was made by. Was this mass produced in a factory? Did a woman or young child possibly make this garment? Will this item break down over time or pollute the environment? All of these are things to consider before you make a big purchase.
Research your favorite brands. It’s important to research and look at your favorite brands when you are choosing to shop more sustainably. An easy way to do this is to research the effects the brand has on the environment. The website Good On You (linked here) is actually a great resource for this because you can search up a brand and see how clean and eco-friendly it is. If a lot of your clothing is looking like it’s from some stores that aren’t environmentally friendly, it may be time to find some new places to shop.
Invest in pieces that will last. Unfortunately, fashion can get extremely expensive, but investing in pieces that are good quality will actually help you save money in the long run. When you’re buying from the fast fashion cycle, you’re committing yourself to repurchasing more of the same item because, chances are, it won’t last very long. It’s better to start off strong and buy a higher end piece that will last you the test of time than make countless purchases of the same item for less than average quality.
If you have any more tips, leave them in the comments below for other readers to see! I hope you enjoyed this post.
For my post on fast fashion today, I am sharing an interview I had with the founder and designer behind Poppyseed Clothing, Rebekah Adams. She has been working on Poppyseed since 2016 and has many achievements, including winning Bellevue Collection’s Independent Designer Runway Show. Adams’ pieces are created using sustainable and ethically sourced materials, and we were able to have a really great conversation about fast fashion and sustainability together. I hope you enjoy the interview!
Emily: So, to get started, I want to know how you got started on Poppyseed, where the idea came from, everything like that.
Rebekah Adams: I started it because I was pregnant with my son and needed maternity clothes, and every time I walked into a maternity store, I felt like not myself. I didn’t want to wear super cute, girly maternity clothes because that’s just not the kind of person I am. When I got pregnant, I wanted to start a company based off of [a maternity dress I made for my sister in college], with the concept of giving women clothing that, yes, can be worn while you’re pregnant but that is not “maternity” and that doesn’t look like an eight year old girl. Then, I started Poppyseed and we produced three different full collections and a couple smaller ones over the six years I was there. I did a Bellevue Collection runway show, which we won, and then sold clothing in boutiques around the Pacific Northwest, and it was a great, great time.
E: Was having clothing that was timeless and sustainable always important for you?
RA: It first sparked when I was a sophomore in college, we watched a documentary called China Blue, and it was about making jeans in China, and it shook me. I went into fashion thinking oh, it will be so fun, and my teacher was so passionate, and opened up my eyes. I was like, alright, my whole mindset changed. I have to work for a sustainable, ethically sourced company. I can’t just make money, I have to also help people, and so the whole ethos of what I wanted to do with my career changed after that. For Poppyseed, we used a lot of deadstock fabric, and if we had leftover product we would change it and sell it again after we redesigned it. When I was a sophomore in college, I was definitely a hypocrite because I still bought stuff from TJ Maxx, and I was like well, I’m informed, but I didn’t do it with my purchasing power. I would buy cheap clothing, and then it would hit me, I’m not doing what I believe and I’m not buying this anymore. I need to know where it comes from and it needs to be locally made or thrifted.
E: What are recommendations that you have for someone who wants to shop ethically and sustainably and break out of the fast fashion cycle?
RA: I love this app called Good On You, and you can type in any brand and it will give you a rating. There’s also The Sustainable Fashion Forum, and it’s a great place to look. Becoming armed with information is really important, and having an understanding of how garments are made is important because there’s times where we walk into, let’s say Target, and we see a sweatshirt for $5.99 and buy it. Not a lot of people realize that there was a person who made that. I think, when you go in, and you see each piece of clothing, you can see each person. If I buy that, I’m going to support something that I don’t really believe in. But if I use my purchasing power to buy even one sweatshirt, but it supports a woman who is in a clean factory and she’s safe and getting paid a living wage, her life is going to be better and it’s going to show that company that you support what they’re doing. So, I think you need to educate yourself, and it’s a hard thing to do.
E: A lot of people talk about how fast fashion is convenient because it’s low priced and you can get whatever is trendy. What would you say in response to that?
RA: Just because something is convenient doesn’t mean it is good for you. Of course it’s convenient; giving into what’s easy is when you have to build up resistance and say no. The more interesting thing is, do you want to live an easy and convenient life? Or do you want to build something that’s important and going to last?
E: Is there anything else you’d like for consumers to know about supporting small and local businesses?
RA: Buying local is awesome, but also I feel like people get put off from the price. There’s so much more that you can do, like posting on socials or building up the owner. Behind every shop is a shop owner’s dream and livelihood tied to it, and they deserve our support because they’re stepping out and doing this really hard thing. So, try to shop local, and after that, do ethically made and ethically sourced items.
Thank you so much to Rebekah Adams for the wonderful interview. She was amazing to talk to and had great insight when it came to fashion and sustainability. I hope you all enjoyed. See you soon.
Since I made a post about five fast fashion brands to avoid, I thought it would be great to have a follow up post where I share some of the better places to shop because of the materials they use and the sustainable practices they implement. I’ve also tried to include some affordable options as I know that sustainable fashion can get expensive.
Pact: This brand is great because it offers a variety of clothing, basic pieces, and home items that are made from organic materials. Pact partners with Fair Trade USA, Global Organic Textile Standard, and Simplizero, all great organizations that ensure fair treatment of workers and the use of sustainable materials. Additionally, they are affordable for those hoping to be sustainable on a budget, with prices starting as low as $25.
Tentree: Tentree is another brand that focuses on sustainability, specifically water waste and the environment. For every purchase that is made, Tentree plants ten trees (they’ve planted over 75 million trees to this day!). They also have incentives for customers, such as rewarding them with redeemable points when they shop and offering free shipping on orders over $50.
Girlfriend Collective: Girlfriend Collective is a popular brand that sells women’s athleisure and clothing. They’re a great brand to support because they use recycled fabrics and packaging and genuinely care about the impact that they are making on the environment. If you visit their website, you can see more statistics about fast fashion and how they’re choosing to combat that.
Nudie Jeans: As we all know by now, jeans are one of the most wasteful products from fast fashion and require a ton of water in order to be made. Nudie Jeans uses all organic, fair trade or recycled cotton, so they’re ensuring that you can get a pair of jeans without it being detrimental to the environment. Their products are on the pricier side, but they’re sure to last you years and years.
Reformation: I love Reformation so much because they have seriously cute clothing while also providing sustainability initiatives. Reformation sends out a progress report where they share their environmental impact while also making clothing. Their goal is to be climate positive by 2025 too which is especially exciting.
As always, feel free to leave comments below with questions and/or recommendations for sustainable places to shop! I hope this post was helpful.
For todays blog post, I wanted to compile a list of fast fashion brands to avoid. I feel like the process of switching out old, fast fashion brands for newer ones that are sustainable can be really tricky. I’m hoping that by writing out a list of 5 places to avoid, you will have an easier time navigating the fast fashion industry going forward.
Shein: This is probably one of the worst fast fashion brands that is extremely popular right now. If you don’t know what Shein is, it’s a clothing website that sells products for extremely low prices while exploiting workers. To make matters worse, in 2022 people found out that the company was paying its workers a roughly estimated $18 a day. That is nowhere near a livable wage. Besides these issues, Shein is also problematic in the sense that it sells insensitive and harmful products (for example, they released a necklace with a swastika pendant on it a few years back).
Forever 21: I’m sure everyone knows of Forever 21 by now since it’s been around for awhile. They are another brand that prides themselves on not using child labor and having fair practices, yet when an investigation was done on one of their factories, it came out that workers were being paid $4 per hour. The material that is used to make clothing for this store is also extremely cheap and of poor quality.
Uniqlo: This is a Japanese brand that has several stores all around the U.S, as well as an online shop that customers can visit and order from. While the company may provide good basics for a relatively cheap price, they have other issues that put them on this list. In 2016, Uniqlo was expecting its workers to work “excessive overtime” with no major financial compensation. They have also had labor right violations in the past.
Victoria’s Secret: This is another company that isn’t great when it comes to fast fashion. Victoria’s Secret has had many allegations come out about it in the past. For example, there was a lawsuit against the company for using formaldehyde in their bras, leaving many customers with skin reactions. They also have many ethical issues, such as sexually harassing their runway models in the past and being transphobic.
Urban Outfitters: UO is super popular among teenagers and young adults. While they do come across as an ethical brand because of their reworked pieces and dedication to sustainability, most of it is a facade. Urban Outfitters has been known to ask their employees to work without compensation on the weekends. Additionally, a lot of the fabrics and materials they use are synthetic, meaning they won’t be broken down well over time.
These are just a few of the most shopped at fast fashion companies that exist. If there’s any others you can think of, be sure to leave them below in the comments for others!
I think it’s important to consider the psychology behind fast fashion because it’s a phenomenon that is ultimately driven by consumer behavior. It’s fascinating for me to look at why people shop the way that they do, and I hope this post will be informative for you to understand the purchasing decisions behind some individuals.
One of the most obvious reasons why people shop in the first place is because it’s a fun activity to partake in and can be done from anywhere. Around 70% of men and women say that shopping is a form of entertainment for them. In the past, we would have to go to a mall or shopping center to shop, but in our current digital age, we can browse what’s new and trending from our phones. Overconsumption is even more prevalent with online shopping because we can order an item online whenever we want it. We may not have it immediately and physically in our hands, but we get the satisfaction of knowing it’s on its way and will be here soon. I don’t know about all of you, but I personally fall victim to browsing what’s new online when I get bored and have had to really rethink purchases and ask myself if it’s necessary. Social media is also a driving factor for buying fast fashion. Today, social media sites like Instagram add “shopping” tabs where you can see where products are from and purchase them directly through the app. This further fuels how easy and fast it is to purchase.
Influencers also play a big role when it comes to shopping. When large creators share their favorite items and recommendations, more people go out and buy those products. According to an article from Earth Day, there’s a positive correlation between the amount of influencers followed and consumption habits. This means that those who follow more influencers are more likely to be the ones engaging with fast fashion. Additionally, a lot of content creators have brand deals with fast fashion companies. Not only does this encourage their audience to shop from these stores, but it also increases the sales of these detrimental companies.
Convenient prices are also another driving force when it comes to shopping. Much of fast fashion is sold for a relatively cheap cost, and when we see the low price tags, we are more likely to buy it. In a way, we justify the purchase because of how cheap it is. However, we need to recognize that these purchases add up and we are continuing to feed the fast fashion cycle by ultimately having to replace the items shortly after they were bought.
Lastly, people shop because they get scared that they will be missing out if they do not purchase a trend. A lot of people refer to this as FOMO (the fear of missing out), and it really translates to purchasing goods. Just like all other trends, a lot of consumers want to be cool and socially accepted, so they choose to spend their money on these trendy pieces. However, these pieces end up only lasting a short amount of time given their life cycle, and soon, people end up with more items that are no longer trendy and functional.
Fast fashion may seem like a relatively simple business, but the psychology behind why consumers act the way they do is important to consider when we see people getting stuck in the fast fashion cycle. If you have questions or need links, leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to answer or redirect you.
One of the biggest consequences from fast fashion is child labor. I feel like it can be a pretty misunderstood topic because a lot of people don’t understand why these children are agreeing to work in the first place and why they can’t just leave. I’ll break everything down for you, and hopefully you have more information on this by the time you’re finished reading.
According to the International Labour Organization, there are around 170 million kids engaged in child labor to this day. 79 million of these children are doing labor that organizations want to get rid of . A lot of these children come from different backgrounds and countries, and it’s not always obvious that these children are working because a lot of work is “under the table.” What do I mean by that? Just that the labor is largely unregulated, leading those in charge to take advantage of the work children can do. Subcontracting is one of the biggest issues because of how unregulated it is, making a lot of issues go unnoticed.
Like most jobs, the fast fashion industry offers promises to workers. A lot of the times, things like fair wages, stable working conditions, proper trainings, accommodations, and three meals a day are stated as bonuses that come with the job. However, many of these promises are under false pretenses. When the worker realizes that these promises are broken, it can usually be too late or too dangerous to leave the industry. Children are also employed because they’re vulnerable and can be taken advantage of easily. The employers make it hard for workers to speak up due to the power dynamic that is established in the workplace.
Another issue with child labor is the lack of education for workers. Many of these children give up school and getting their degree so that they can support themselves and their family. This leads them to sacrifice not only their education but also important cognitive skills that they would otherwise not learn.
The sad, unfortunate truth is that many children are going to stay in this cycle because they feel as if the opportunity in fast fashion is the only way to make an income and support their family. The best thing that we can do as individuals is to advocate for the rights of these children and, ultimately, stop cooperating with the fast fashion cycle.
If you have more questions about this topic, you can drop them below and I’ll be happy to answer or send you some links with information.
I want to go into more detail about the environmental impacts fast fashion has since there are so many things to be considered. Below, I’ve created a list of some of the top reasons as to why fast fashion is hurting the environment.
High Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Fast fashion makes up 10% of the world’s global carbon dioxide emissions, meaning that it emits around 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (that’s even more than what international flights emit). Experts say that by 2030 our greenhouse gas emissions from fast fashion will increase by 50%. This is extremely detrimental to the environment as it will contribute to climate change and tons of waste that cannot be broken down.
Increased Water Usage: Fashion uses a lot of water to generate textiles. It takes about 2,000 gallons of water in order to make one pair of jeans alone. That amount of water could last the average person 11 years! Additionally, sourcing and cultivating cotton requires 20,000 liters of water just to produce around 2 pounds of material. With around 2 million people affected by water shortages, fashion contributes to the problem of water usage and water waste.
Extreme Waste: Around 85% of all textiles made in the fashion industry go to waste each year, with America contributing 82 pounds of textiles going to waste. Many people choose to recycle their clothes and hope that it will be better for the environment, but what’s sad is that only 12% of recycled material gets used again. Unfortunately, around 10,000 items of clothing gets taken to a landfill every five minutes.
Pollutants in Water: 500,000 microfibers infiltrate our water each year due to the effects of fast fashion, and around 80-90% of the wastewater is returned back into the environment without being cleaned and treated. Food sources end up being contaminated because this untreated water can end up in streams and groundwater.
Increased Energy Usage: 2% of the world’s energy usage comes from fast fashion alone. Turning plastic fiber into textile requires a huge amount of energy and releases petroleum and hydrogen chloride back into the atmosphere. While using energy to create garments is convenient, it has harmful effects for both how much energy it uses and how many chemicals it puts back into the atmosphere.
I hope this was helpful and that I was able to break down some information for you. See you soon with another post!