The fast fashion industry is a massive global business that employs over 300 million people. While it provides jobs for underserved populations in low-income nations, it is also responsible for harmful environmental effects and violates labor rights.
The industry uses cheap labor and exploits women, children, and other vulnerable groups. Its factories often operate under unsafe conditions, and its products have negative environmental impacts. In addition, it is one of the largest consumers of carbon and water in the world.
Oftentimes, workers in garment factories and other supply chains are paid less than the legal minimum wage. And many of them do not receive wages after working more than 100 hours a week. Some do not even have access to healthcare. This is the case for both female and male factory employees. Children are also frequently involved in the fast fashion industry. For example, manufacturers often hire child workers in cotton farms.
The success of the fast fashion industry depends on the exploitation of women and children. Child labor is still prevalent in developing countries. Manufacturers also use hazardous chemicals in their fabric dyeing, intensive farming, and wastewater treatment facilities. These toxic chemicals damage the environment, as well as the farmers’ health.
The fast fashion industry is one of the most environmentally destructive industries in the world. It accounts for 10 percent of global carbon emissions, and it uses more energy than aviation.
While the industry creates jobs in developing countries, it does not protect children or promote gender equality. As a result, there is a wide range of issues affecting the fast fashion industry, from sexual abuse to physical assaults to forced child labor.
One of the most devastating incidents in the fast fashion industry is the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. This disaster left more than 1,132 people dead and injured over 2,500. The accident is thought to be the deadliest clothing manufacturing accident in history.
The disaster was fueled by the rapid pace of changing fashion trends. Clothing companies are constantly producing new lines. This increases demand for clothing, and the constant turnover of styles makes older clothing look out-of-style. That is why fast fashion brands have rushed to produce celebrity-inspired pieces. Sadly, the fast fashion industry is a major part of the reason that some of the cheapest items in the world are manufactured overseas.
There are more than a dozen scandals associated with workers’ rights in UK factories. In a recent report by Levitt, the supply chain of UK fast fashion brand Boohoo was found to have unacceptable working conditions.
Despite the efforts of many, the fast fashion industry continues to degrade the lives of those who work in it. In fact, it has been called modern slavery. Many factory workers do not have unions, and they are forced to work long hours for little or no pay.
The rapid turnover of styles means that the clothes produced for fast fashion brands are often worn for a short period of time before being replaced. This normalizes overconsumption.