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The consequences of fast fashion for our planet

The fast fashion industry has grown extensively in recent years. Where once if one wanted to go shopping, one had to go out directly to these shops and make these purchases in person. Now, there are thousands of shops available with the touch of a button. With the rise of online shopping, has come the rise of fast fashion. Fast fashion, by definition, is low cost clothing that moves quickly from manufacturer to retailer. It typically moves quickly so that companies can keep up with changing trends. With the rise of social media, fast fashion companies have become much more prevalent. This is due to the trend cycle moving much more quickly and social media users always wishing to have the latest, most stylish looks.

The fast fashion industry is incredibly profitable for companies. In 2022, fast fashion accounted for 60.5 billion dollars of sales. This number is expected to become significantly larger by 2030. It is expected that it will account for 179.5 billion dollars in sales. This is almost triple what it is now. As of now 88% of fashion brands are fast fashion, the biggest of which is Shein. Shein made a profit of 2 billion dollars in 2023, double what they made in 2022. According to, the fast fashion industry accounts for 92 million tonnes of waste per year. This is expected to rise to 134 million tonnes a year by 2030. The fast fashion industry contributes to almost 10% of carbon emissions worldwide. also states that 85% of all textiles are dumped each year.

Photo via Anne on

It is evident that the waste caused by the fast fashion industry has not deterred customers from shopping on these sites. Fast fashion originated in the 1990s and has been growing every year since. Fast fashion largely became prominent due to advanced technology. The manufacturing of fast fashion companies is typically done in poorer countries where cheaper labour can be acquired so that these companies can maximise their profits. These countries include Vietnam, China, Bangladesh, India and Cambodia. There are still fashion labels, typically smaller companies, who pride themselves on being slow fashion. This means that they do not have thousands of products on offer and take a more sustainable approach to producing fashion. It is the hope of environmentalists that the slow fashion movement will take over and that people will purchase clothing pieces that last, rather than a new outfit for every day and disposing of it once it is worn.

Aine Cunningham via Canva
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