The other day, I was watching the BBC documentary about Shein and how they treat their employees in China. They work around 16-18 a day and they get only one day off in the month and no weekends. They also don’t get paid enough. And this is all so Shein can sell their clothes for a low price. Since the pandemic, I’ve seen so many Shein shopping hauls. A lot of people buy from that website. And they are probably not the only fast fashion store that treats their workers terribly and we all know it. But the thing is that even luxury brands are not that good either. These are the pros and cons of buying fast fashion.
The pros and cons of buying fast fashion
They don’t treat their employees well
I already gave the example of Shein above. Their employees get 3p per item, they can’t stop working until everything is done. They have to work very hard and if they make a mistake, the workers will get paid less. In their first month, they did not even get paid. That is ridiculous. Imagine if this would happen in Western society. Everyone would be so mad and nobody would even work for them. I think a company should care about its employees. In the past, we had also a lot of stories about employees who worked in buildings that could collapse at any moment. It happened several times.
Bad for the environment
We see something we like online, we buy it and then we wear it once or twice and we throw it away. That is really bad for the environment. It cost a lot of water and energy to produce those clothes. Apparently, the average American throws away 37kg/81pounds of clothes every year. That is insane! And then we are not even talking about those companies throwing away their clothes that did not sell very well. We should take care of our planet and throw things away, we could still use is bad for the environment.
It promotes a consumerist lifestyle
Fast fashion brands create new fashion lines every single week/month. So one month you buy a new top and you really like it, but before you even know it, it is not trendy anymore and you buy something new. We live in a society where we care about what other people (society) think of us. To get approval from others, we follow the trends. When a new iPhone drops, everyone stands in line to get in. The same with clothes. And with social media, it is easy to influence others to buy new things. That is not always a bad thing, but we have to be more mindful of the things we buy. We should not buy things and then buy something new one month later and not wear it ever again.
It is cheap
If every fast fashion brand would give their employees a decent loan, then everything would be so much more expensive. And maybe that is fine for some people, but that would also mean that poor people can’t buy new clothes. Some people can only buy at Fast fashion stores because they can’t afford anything else. I totally get why people shop at fast fashion stores. Instead of buying one expensive sweater, you can several items for the same amount of money. Because of fast fashion stores, you can still look amazing for just a few dollars/pounds/euros.
You can still wear it for several years
Okay, you have to check the quality of each item, but most of the time you can wear the same items for years. So in that case, it is also less bad when you buy something from a fast fashion brand, in my opinion. I have items in my closet that I bought 5-10 years ago at Primark or H&M. So when it comes to waste and the environment, I don’t think fast fashion is always bad.
Job opportunities for poor people
Yes, I still think a lot of things have to change for those who work for fast fashion brands. Companies should do more for their employees. Even when that means, the prices go up with one euro/dollar/pond. I think that would already make a difference. They need more days off too, definitely and nobody should work 16 hours a day. That is also insane. But I also know that in some countries, they would still work for companies like these because they need money and they have no other solution. It creates jobs for a lot of people.
So yes, fast fashion brands are not taking care of their employees very well and I definitely think that something has to change. But these days everyone buys fast fashion. I think we should be more mindful of the things we buy. Do we really need to buy 10 tops every single month? Or is there another way of throwing away tons of clothes every year?
Of course, change starts with yourself. These days I buy more clothes at the thrift store. They still sell fast fashion too, but it is cheaper and it feels better. When I have an item that does not fit me anymore or I just don’t want to wear it anymore, I donate it. I am more mindful of the things I buy. Every time I buy something new, I check the quality, I think about how many times I would wear it and if it really looks good on me. If I am not sure, I just don’t buy it anymore
Read more: How to be more sustainable in everyday life?