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Ethical shopping: A Quick and Simple Guide to Fast Fashion

By: Miyuki Mori

We all purchase items online. Whether it be a clothing haul for yourself or a last minute birthday gift, the popularity of shopping online has peaked especially from the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Shopping from the comfort of your own home may be convenient, but there are many hidden horrors that we must be aware of when doing so. Thus, here is a quick and simple guide to the world of fast fashion, written in the spirit of trying to stay ethical during a difficult time.

What is it?

Here is fast fashion at a glance. Fast fashion is essentially clothing that sparks from recent fashion trends that is quick to move from the catwalk to the store. In other words, those fashion trends that get all the buzz for only a short speedy period of time (hence the name, fast fashion).

Why is it bad?

When looking at the fashion industry (and frankly, any industry that produces anything) it's smart to think of where and how certain items end up in your hands.

A simple T-shirt’s life cycle begins from the threads and fabric it is made out of, and makes its way into a consumer’s hands through countless delivery systems and production lines. That itself is exactly why fast fashion is devastating to our society. Think of where the fabric comes from and how it's sewed together into its final form. Is it from a corporate factory, or was this shirt made in a child labour facility where countless children are forced to work in inhumane conditions.

Take a look at the T-shirt’s colour. Where did this colour come from? Chances are, it may have been dyed in a facility that dunks the leftover dyes in our local lakes and rivers, not knowing what toxins might be in the dye that could possibly harm local ecosystems.

How did this T-shirt get from these places to inside your house? It is already common knowledge how driving and shipping requires gasoline, which will end up severely impacting our current climate change crisis.

Chances are, if you are buying from a company or brand that participates in fast fashion, they will be using unethical methods to mass produce products in a quick and inexpensive way just to satisfy the current buzz.

But wait! That’s not all...

If you’re concerned about ethical shopping, don’t be oblivious to the fact that this concept exists in other industries too. Do the terms “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds” ring a bell?

Engagement rings are often presented with beautiful diamonds that reflect every ray of the sun, though, not all diamonds are sunshine and rainbows. Conflict diamonds are jewels that are mined and produced in a war zone. Rebel forces that are opposed to the government threaten locals to help dig out these diamonds, and then sell the pricey product to fund their arms for their own military. This tends to happen in areas in Africa, and puts many innocent lives in risky and inhumane situations.

So what can I do?

I can understand that it’s quite hard being a teenager and trying to stay ethical while purchasing items, especially when most of us don’t have a full-time job yet. Most fast fashion companies sell clothing for exponentially low prices, and I'll admit, it's quite hard to resist the excitement that I get when seeing the cost as something I could afford without breaking the bank...but here, I pose a question. (and this applies for all forms of shopping as well, online or in person)

Is the excitement that you may feel from saving a few dollars greater than the satisfaction you feel, knowing you didn’t contribute to a cause that may not fit your morals?

Perhaps the next time you make a massive shopping haul, you may want to keep in mind where the items originate from, and indirectly help our planet stay ethical and healthy from the power of your own purchases.

Before you leave!

Here’s a quick resource you may want to use when shopping. This website analyzes the ethical level and sustainability of each company via searching the brand name up on the search bar.

Enjoy :)

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