Fast Fashion and the Environment



Buying clothes from fast fashion companies can be tempting. You can get trendy, fashionable clothing for tens of dollars less than other stores that don’t use fast fashion. However, there is a negative environmental consequence attached to these brands. Supporting and buying from them will help profit these companies and extend its repercussions on Earth. 


What are the consequences fast fashion brings to Earth and the environment? Water pollution, gas emissions, and plastic microfibers are just three of the many effects of fast fashion. Starting with water pollution, let’s go in-depth with how each factor directly affects the environment. 


Water pollution: Water from textile factories is dumped into local water sources. The wastewater contains harmful chemicals such as lead and arsenic. Mathilde Charpail says the dumping of wastewater is  “extremely harmful for aquatic life and the health of the millions of people living by those rivers banks” (1). Also because it is thrown in water bodies, it easily spreads and contaminates water around the globe. 


Gas emissions: The clothing industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions. Production, manufacturing, and transportation in the fashion industry cause an increase in gas emissions. Fast fashion companies do all three more than and quicker than other companies because they are known for manufacturing a large supply of clothing in a small time frame. Gas emissions are a huge contributor to climate change and fast fashion brands are promoting that. 


Plastic microfibers: To lower the price of clothing, fast fashion brands use low-quality, synthetic materials. This material contains plastic microfibers that are released into our oceans and rivers, inevitably hurting aquatic life. Ngan Le talks about microfibers traveling through the aquatic food chain and how since “these plastic microfibers cannot be removed, they end up in the human food chain through aquatic life”(2). When we eat fish, we often don’t take into account if these fish ate smaller fish who also ate microfibers. Microfibers from fast fashion manufacturing not only affect aquatic life but our health and life too. 


What can we do to reduce or completely stop our spending on fast fashion brands? You can research ethical companies that have green business practices and are not too expensive. The morals and aims of green businesses are environment-friendly. They will want their business to have a low negative impact on the environment or even a positive one! Here is a list of affordable shopping brands with good and green morals that you may want to consider shopping at (they are better material too): Kotn, Boden, Pact, Ocelot Market, Amour Vert, and Boody. 


In addition to shopping greener, you can donate clothing, thrift, and not throw out clothes too quickly or at all. 


Bettering the Earth starts with making small changes such as where we decide to shop. Understandably, clothes are expensive and fast fashion brands make trendy clothes for a low price. Sometimes fast fashion is the best choice for many people. And for many others, it is just too appealing to turn away from. However, if you can find similar clothing at a more moral clothing brand and it’s not too costly, go shop there instead! Cheaper clothes are not worth the toll it takes on the environment. As you can see, there are many effects our clothing decisions have that impact our environment. It is important that we slowly but surely improve the way we shop and where we spend our money. Let’s start putting our money towards eco-friendly brands, thrifting locally, and donating our clothes too!


Lastly, In addition to the list of good brands, here are the brands that do use fast fashion. Try and avoid shopping from here if you can: Shein, Romwe, Uniqlo, Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Fashion Nova, Primark, and more. A quick google search can tell you everything you need about a company. Shopping less or completely not shopping at certain stores can play a good part in the environment. Your shopping decisions count! One changed mindset is one step closer to a healthier Earth!  




  1. Cima, Roseann. "How Much Recycling Actually Gets Recycled: Nitty-Gritty". Stanford Magazine, 2021, Accessed 9 May 2021.

  2. "Clothes & Climate Change: How A Fashion Choice Change Could Lead To Better Air Quality". Group Against Smog and      Pollution, 2020, Accessed 9 May 2021.

  3. "Environmental Impacts Of The Fashion Industry". Sustainyourstyle, 2021, Accessed 9 May 2021.

  4. "The Impact Of Fast Fashion On The Environment". PSCI—Princeton University, 2020, Accessed 9 May 2021.