Do you remember that $5 t-shirt you bought from H&M three months ago, the one that got a hole in it a month after you purchased it, so you threw it in the trash? Because it was only $5?
As innocent as that might seem, it is part of a major problem. Besides the fact that the person who made that shirt in India got paid two cents an hour to do so, the t-shirt is going into a landfill that is contributing to the millions of tons of textile waste the United States creates each year.
Textile waste is non-biodegradable. This means that for the next 200 years, that shirt will sit and excrete toxic fumes into the environment.
That doesn’t sound good, does it? We need to realize the impact our actions have. To be able to simply throw away a shirt because it has a hole in it is a luxury that many people cannot afford. Is it worth buying cheap clothing just to throw it away where it will harm the environment?
This idea of throw-away fashion in known as “The Primark Effect” and it has made the fashion industry the second most polluting industry in the world. Only the oil industry is worse. Stores like Primark, Forever 21 and H&M are creating clothing so cheap that consumers purchase it for the price, not quality. This has led to a 23 percent increase in textile waste, which is causing big problems for the environment. Clothes have become a product that we use up, just like food or chewing gum, instead of a product that we use, like a car or a washing machine.
Our society needs to start treating clothes as a product that we use for longer than a year. If we don’t, the environmental impacts may be too great to fix. There are some companies that are aware of this issue, and do their best to try to influence the fashion industry to turn away from creating such cheap and disposable products.
Throwaway, cheap fashion is too expensive in the long run.