Because of the production methods exercised by the fast fashion industry, mass amounts of waste have damaged the environment.
Fast fashion is the making of clothes by large retailers at a low cost in order to respond to trends as they are happening.
Fast fashion has been a part of the clothing industry for a really long time, said Dawn Michaelson, lecturer in consumer and design development.
“People have gotten very used to the fact that they can go and sometimes every two weeks there’s new clothing in the stores,” Michaelson said
Many people, however, are beginning to see the negative impact of the fashion industry.
“Now people are thinking, ‘what’s happening to all these clothes,’ and that’s why we are starting to see a change,” Michaelson said. “They are going in the landfills.”
A lot of the clothes being thrown away — because they go out of style so quickly — are made from synthetic fabrics. These materials can take hundreds of years to biodegrade.
Decomposition of clothing also emits methane, a damaging greenhouse gas.
Some companies are utilizing recycled fabrics in an effort to promote sustainability.
“There are some places that are actually reusing the fabrics and re-breaking them down back to the fiber level, and then taking those fibers, putting it back into a yarn and then making a fabric,” Michaelson said.
Clothing made from recycled materials is marked on the tag with a symbol.
“The quality of the garments in a lot of places is not as good as it used to be,” Michaelson said. “They knew that the clothing needed to be at a lower price point and that person was only going to be using it for maybe a year.”
Some people think clothes are disposable, and others are more sustainably minded, Michaelson said.
There is now a growing trend of “slow fashion,” which produces clothing with sustainability, quality and working conditions in mind.
“You see fast fashion slowing down,” Michaelson said. “[But] we are always going to have some level of fast fashion.”
People are now more willing to purchase more expensive investment pieces that they will wear more rather than trendy, poor-quality clothing, Michaelson said.
He believes people are more aware of the waste and prefer to not throw away their clothes.
“Companies are being more conscientious of it,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot more fashion brands coming out and letting their consumers know how they are being sustainable.”
Jen Morse, Office of Sustainability’s communications and outreach coordinator, said fast fashion negatively impacts nature because pollutants go into the air and the water.
She said it negatively impacts individual’s well-being because workers receive low wages and the working conditions are poor.
“Auburn’s apparel merchandising program is promoting sustainability by keeping students informed on current environmental strides in the industry,” said Lauren Dunn, sophomore in apparel merchandising and design production.
Dunn said they are encouraged to implement these strides in the classroom.
“Specifically, in my apparel production management class, we were given a project where we built a brand extension off of an existing company,” Dunn said. “We worked those sustainable technologies into our business model.”
She emphasized the importance in the fashion industry evolving.
“As consumers become more informed and transparency is increasing, it is imperative that the fashion industry evolves and makes strides towards reducing its waste and lessening its overall environmental impact,” Dunn said. .
Morse recommends researching the company and the product you are looking for before purchasing.
“Make sure it falls in line with your values,” she said.
According to a blog released by the Office of Sustainability, shopping at secondhand stores is an effective way to reduce one’s personal consumption.
“Secondhand stores are a great option,” Morse said.
She said shopping online through secondhand retailers is also beneficial to the environment if one selects standard shipping as opposed to two-day shipping.