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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


The Impact of Fast Fashion


The term “fast fashion” captures  the fashion industry’s quick processes of design, production, distribution and marketing of clothing. These qualities empower retailers to generate substantial products, enabling consumers to access a broader range of fashion at more affordable prices.

According to Good on You, an ethical clothing journal, The New York Times coined the term fast fashion in 1990 when fashion brand Zara opened its first store in New York. The company’s ambitious objective was to quickly transition a garment from the design phase to store shelves within 15 days. Now, Zara produces 12,000 new designs and manufactures more than 450 million clothing items daily. Other major contributors to the fast fashion industry include Shein, UNIQLO, Fashion Nova, Forever 21 and H&M.

Senior Eliana Nitkin, one of the heads of the Sustainable Fashion club, provides further insight: “fast fashion is popular because it is convenient, as it allows people to buy new clothes and update their wardrobes regularly.” 

Nitkin also explained the dangers and issues surrounding the fast fashion industry, specifically its environmental impact. Mass clothing production contributes to pollution, excessive water usage and increased carbon emissions. In addition, using cheap materials, unethical production practices and the fast turnover of trend cycles exacerbates overconsumption and waste.

According to a report in 2018 by Quantis International, a leading environmental sustainability consultancy, the main factors leading to the industry’s global pollution impact include dyeing and finishing fabric, yarn preparation and fiber production.

The report explains the negative effect of fiber on ecosystems’ health, as it uses a large amount of freshwater. The dye, finish and preparation of the yarn require significant energy use, further increasing pollution. 

Extensive waste occurs at every stage of the garment manufacturing process, harming wildlife, degrading land and polluting soil and water. The fast fashion industry significantly contributes to the climate crisis, responsible for approximately 10 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

The production of animal fibers like wool is also harmful to the environment, resulting in air pollution, water contamination and habitat loss. In addition, manufacturers often mix wool with fibers from fossil fuels and other chemicals. 

CNN suggests a possible solution to counteract fast fashion waste is shopping at environmentally conscious retailers like Reformation, Nudie Jeans, Everlane and Outerknown. Additionally, renting and buying second-hand clothing can reduce negative environmental impact.

Repurposing and upcycling clothes is another feasible solution. For example, people can wear the same outfit on multiple occasions and use T-shirts as cleaning rags when worn out. 

Nitkin explains actions taken by the Sidwell community to reduce environmental pollution. She explains how the Sustainable Fashion club heads hosted a clothing swap during Homecoming weekend, allowing students to update their wardrobes without increasing their impact on the environment.

Sophomore Lucy Verma added that “we should have people support more small-owned businesses” and encouraged students to take advantage of thrift stores. 

Sophomore Lexi Orr voiced her opinions on a possible solution for the dangers of fast fashion as well: “We should focus on creating an environment where the statistics of the fast fashion issues are more known in society so people get a better understanding of it because I know many people were unaware of these problems until today.”

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About the Contributor
Lilah Baez ’26
Lilah Baez ’26, News Editor
Lilah Baez is currently a News Editor for Horizon. Prior to this, she worked as a Staff Writer for the newspaper.
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