The True Cost of Fashion: How Fast Fashion and Social Media are Killing the Planet 

by Rae-Marie Oladimeji

       The fashion industry is a fast paced, ever changing business. As they have to accommodate emerging trends every year, they create lots of waste that is impacting the planet. From fast fashion, to high end designers, this problem has become increasingly common, making it harder to combat. 

There are countless companies to blame for this issue, companies which were never expected to contribute to environmental issues. It is estimated that fast fashion makes up ten percent of emissions. Ten percent! This is a big deal, considering the amount of harm we know emissions cause to the environment. Popular brands such as Zara, Shein, H&M, Forever 21, and more are to blame for this issue. Their unethical practices are putting the climate at stake and the world at risk. Fast fashion brands put out 52 “micro seasons” a year to accommodate the ever changing “micro trends” happening. This is a result of social media. This generation is more connected than ever, the exchange of information is constant, resulting in hundreds of trends happening every year. The problem with this is that styles are constantly going out of fashion and fast fashion companies have to accommodate the rapid change. This means that companies are throwing out tons of clothes to make way for new styles. Companies worldwide waste 92 million tons of clothing per year, while 17 million tons are wasted in the US alone. 

What can we do?

Although this information might make you feel powerless, here are some ways you can help. 


Thrifting is a great way to help the environment. The exchange and purchase of used clothes is a glamorous way to recycle. Not only are you helping the environment, you can also find unique pieces. There are so many thrift stores to choose from. From “buy sell trade” vintage shops to donation thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. 


Although it’s very tempting to wear the latest trend, know that it’s not sticking around for long. Resisting micro trends is so important to helping the climate, because you create more waste once the style goes out of trend. Not only do you create more waste, but you are also contributing to companies creating more waste. 


Creating your personal style can help you resist indulging in micro trends and decrease your personal waste. Start by knowing your essential favorites. Whether it be floral or jeans, band tees or graphics. Now that you know your essentials, you can shop in the ballpark of them. And there you go, you have your personal style! No waste, no hassle. 


Once you don’t want your clothes anymore, donate them to Goodwill or sell them on Depop. Donating clothes is not only good for the environment, but it can also help those in need. If you want to sell, there are so many apps that make selling clothes easy. Poshmark, Depop, Grailed, and more. 

Shopping responsibly is so important. Not only for a better climate, but for a better future. The next time you pick up an item of clothing, think about its environmental cost. Think about tomorrow.