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How Does Fast Fashion Influence Individuals And Why More People Are Turning Towards Sustainable Shopping

If fast fashion is so bad, why isn’t the government stopping them?


Shouldn't the corporations be responsible for changing, not us?


Every one of us has bought something from a fast fashion website at some point in our lives. Recently, there has been an explosion in the secondhand clothing market among individuals known as Gen Z, as the promotion of sustainable fashion is another benefit of buying used items.


Shopping sustainably means choosing products that will help the environment. High amounts of carbon emissions are caused by a number of sources. These include the use of chemicals and pesticides in the creation of plastic, cotton cultivation, the manufacturing process, and non-biodegradable products. On the other hand, eco-friendly fashion labels design apparel and accessories with a reduced carbon footprint in mind. These companies employ recycled plastic or alternatives to plastic, prioritize biodegradable materials, avoid using hazardous chemicals, and operate in energy-efficient facilities.


Although most individuals do not support fast fashion, many have stated that it is "cheap, easy for people to use especially students who do not have a lot of money." said Adastra Fletcher-Hall. We later hear from Mindhi Bains, who is a law student; she refers to fast fashion as having the "benefit of being relatively inexpensive which is practical for many."


As more people become aware of the environmental, social, and economic benefits of secondhand shopping, the market for worn apparel may outgrow rapid fashion. We have students tell us that "Fast fashion is convenient and easily accessible. Even though I know that it is bad for the environment and problematic in other ways, it does still provide a purpose." This young fashion designer also explains the other perspectives to us, as she knows that "It is convenient for consumers that do not have a substantial amount of money or time. Fast fashion provides those consumers with the ideal access to new trends without spending too much."


According to a YouGov study of 2,000 UK adults, 52% base their purchasing decisions on a company's environmental credentials, with 21% actively choosing not to purchase a particular brand or product due to environmental concerns.


But as we all know, fast fashion is inexpensive, so it benefits many of us. We hear from Yasmin Elhassine who says that she “would be lying if she said no because fast fashion is cheap and I myself have bought from fast fashion websites.” We further hear from the graphic design student that she has “discovered shopping second hand is way much cheaper, but then you also have gentrification, or you find more unique pieces when you shop.”


A study conducted by Patatam, a sustainable French fashion brand, found that one in three British women said they are now more aware of the difficulties surrounding fast fashion, such as water wastage and landfills, and feel guilty about shopping through fast fashion. “More recently, I do feel a little guilty and am more aware that I shouldn't be doing it. But the convenience for me makes it easier for me to just go there and buy stuff,” states a fellow fashion student, although we all try to spend less money by trying to either limit our spending or try alternatives like shopping secondhand, it will not be the best option for all.


Although eBay and Facebook marketplace used to be popular, there has been a decrease in use of those apps as “Things on like eBay and Facebook marketplace, the same sort of app as Vinted. They get sold for ridiculous prices just because you know something in demand,” says Adastra Fletcher-Hall. You might be surprised to learn that there are alternatives to eBay. There are many more alternatives available now to guarantee you receive the greatest experience and price possible. The popular apps among Gen Z are Vinted, Depop, Reluxe, and Etsy. “I shop regularly from Vinted as it is inexpensive and has perfectly good second-hand clothing that can be sold to someone else instead of throwing it away,” says Mindhi Bains.


The impact on the environment is vast. While 85% of all textiles end up in landfills each year, it dehydrates water sources and pollutes rivers and streams. The equivalent of microfibers from 50 billion plastic bottles is released into the ocean every year just by washing garments. It takes a lot of energy to produce plastic fibers for textiles, and the process also generates a lot of volatile particulate matter and acids like hydrogen chloride. Additionally, cotton, which is used in a lot of fast fashion items, is not produced in an ecologically responsible manner.


Our youthful graphic design student says that she educates herself about this issue as many individuals of Gen Z do too. She recently "did a design project about it, like the environmental impacts, there have been many documentaries about it on YouTube about Shein. I recently worked with @lovenotlandfill, as a way to fight fast fashion is to recycle your clothes or shop second hand instead.”


The impact that fast fashion has had on Gen Z is immense, this has brought about change and the way that Gen Z are now shopping as Gen Z has been primarily responsible for the rise in used clothing sales. According to a 2022 study by the Boston Consulting Group and the resale website Vestiaire, this group of customers was most likely to buy (31%) and sell (44%) used goods, with millennials following closely after.


Individuals of all ages are now realizing that Gen Z are onto something new as shopping second hand provides solutions to different issues in the fashion industry such as style, cost, and sustainability.

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