The Current Generation and Fast Fashion

Photo Credie: Wikimedia Commons

By Contributing Writers Ella Azria (’25), Lillie Fowler (’25) & Olivia Conley (’25)

Fast fashion is one of the most popular ways to buy clothing today. However, at what cost? Yes, fast fashion is very convenient because of its affordability and oftentimes its fast delivery, but it’s killing this planet as we speak. Did you know that 85% of clothing waste ends up in landfills each year? And, it’s only getting worse. Fast fashion is one of the main culprits of clothing waste in our society, mainly because of the use of cheap materials to produce the products. 

Today’s society is full of consumers who thrive on a fast-paced economy with zero contact. During the pandemic, fast fashion sites thrived as they offered a way for people to obtain clothes quickly and at cheap prices, with the exception of not having to leave their houses. Online shops had existed long before the pandemic, but the demand made them gain a much larger audience, and expand to a new level. Many people use sites like Zara, H&M, Boden, Shein, etc., when wanting cheap and fashionable outfits. These sites allowed people to keep up with fashion trends without breaking their bank accounts. With the current generation and social media platforms inflating trends, there is a new fashion style every week. This makes it difficult for people to afford to keep their closets up to date.

Due to the fast fashion craze, more and more people continue buying and throwing away clothing. Therefore, clothing ends up in landfills, and the waste ultimately gets worse over time. Clothes sold on fast fashion sites are often made very cheap because they have to be produced quickly. The materials these sites use to make the majority of the clothing sold mainly consist of plastic. So, when they are thrown away in landfills, they never decompose. 

High School students make up a large majority of those who are buying off of these fast fashion sites. Jamesville-Dewitt High School junior, Olivia Quackenbush, said that she has spent just about $400 on these fast fashion websites. When asked about her money-spending habits online she stated: “I don’t know… maybe 360-400 dollars in total I would say?”  Surprisingly, this was not the highest amount spent by a single student. Many other students have spent double, even triple the amount that Olivia said she had spent. Although the prices of the clothes themselves are meager, those prices add up quickly and become mass amounts of spending in one swoop. 

It’s not only students being impacted by this fast fashion craze, but teachers and faculty as well. Director of Jamesville Dewitt High School’s English program, Diane Rushford, spoke on how this phenomenon has impacted her and her style. Rushford speaks on how most of the teachers at J-DHS shop at the same places such as Ross, Loft, Target, etc. Making it harder to find clothing that no one else had. So the accessibility of these fast fashion sites allowed Mrs. Rushford to find unique clothing at cheaper prices. Mrs. Rushford stated that she believes our society is something known as a “fast-food economy.” This means that we as a society consume faster than we can process what it means in our minds. So when trying to keep up with these fashion trends on social media, there will ultimately be another new trend the following week.

Many fast fashion sites have been found to overwork their employees up to 75 hours a week. Some sites have also been found using child labor to produce products efficiently. Because of this, many innocent lives have been lost trying to make money to provide for their families. For this reason, many people have decided to find a new approach to obtain clothing. For example, Rozir Kirkland, a junior at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, mentioned that he prefers to make his clothes and go to thrift shops, garage sales, etc., to find unique clothes, rather than using fast fashion sites. He uses these methods because he knows how detrimental fast fashion sites are to the environment and he is trying to help promote a cleaner and safer way of living.

Even though these fast fashion sites are appealing, they are harming this planet. There are many more sustainable options such as thrifting or sewing your clothes, or simply shopping in stores you know are clothing waste-conscious. These are much more sustainable sources of clothes, and even if the clothes are a bit more expensive, the product will most likely last longer and be better quality. Fashion trends have changed so rapidly, and are continuing to do so. But at what cost? We only have this one planet and we need to stop destroying it to keep up with these fashion trends. 

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