Fashion / Sustainability Q&A

What is Fast Fashion? And Why is it Bad?

What is fast fashion?!

I get this question a lot and I love it because awareness is the first catalyst for change. Before anyone can do better, they have to know better! I didn’t grow up rich so all I knew for a long time was how to buy cheap, trendy, fast fashion. 

I didn’t realize that my actions were negatively impacting the planet or people in countries halfway around the world. To me, fast fashion seemed like a big win.

Being able to dress yourself and your family without breaking the bank feels great, right? So what is fast fashion and why is it so bad?

First, let’s define it.


Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. The cheap materials used also shorten the life of garments and they end up in landfills after just a few wears. To keep costs low, many garment workers are paid small wages and forced to work in terrible, unsafe conditions.


It’s easy to see from the definition above why fast fashion is a bad choice but I want to break down each reason below to help you see the extent of the problem.

  • Very low wages for garment workers & unsafe working conditions
  • Factory waste and pollution
    • Tons of water is used/wasted to produce clothing, especially at this speed
    • Fabric dyes and waste can end up polluting local water supplies
      • Community health issues
  • Cheap fabric that doesn’t last and fills landfills & makes you buy more!
  • Wasteful packaging – fast fashion brands rarely take into consideration the amount of trash they create with packaging
  • High demand – we keep buying so they keep selling. Our planet has not time to heal!
    • New products constantly being produced – no more seasons, just weekly or daily arrivals of products
  • Limited recycling options – we keep making more trash with no solution for dealing with it


I’m guessing it’s all starting to click into place for you. 

Fast fashion = bad and we’re fueling the machine with every purchase we make! (Ugh–the guilt right?)

The quickest solution is to stop buying from fast fashion retailers. Instead, you can shop at thrift stores or purchase clothing from sustainable and ethical brands like PACT, Alternative Apparel, Reformation, and Everlane. (More complete list coming soon!)

They share our concerns are working to create a world where our outfits don’t come at the cost of the environment and human rights.

You can also slow your roll when it comes to shopping in general. As a society, we’re over-consuming which isn’t good for our mental health, the planet, and our finances. 

Our brain releases a chemical reward (dopamine) signal when we shop and buy things but it’s short-lived and doesn’t lead to REAL, sustainable happiness.


Some fast fashion brands are easy to recognize like: Forever21, H&M, Zara, etc.

They have cheap clothing, focus on trends and don’t offer many details about their eco-footprint or sustainability practices anywhere on their websites. 

Other brands can be trickier because they might be in the process of improving their environmental impact or they offer vague statements about sustainability that are mostly aspirational.

The best advice I can give you is to research your favorite brands and do your best to decipher all the mumbo jumbo they share. 

I know this is an extra step in your already busy schedule so I will do my best to share what I find and create clearly defined shopping lists. Be on the lookout for those posts soon!


That was a lot of information I just shared.

Let’s take a deep breath together….breeeeeaaaattthhe innnn…. and out. 

Deciding to give up fast fashion is a challenge. It’s a totally new way of functioning and it requires you to give up old habits and replace them with very different ones.

I’m struggling with this as well.  Living a more sustainable life is new to me and I’m navigating new challenges all the time! 

To help, I’ve really started focusing on why I’m doing this in the first place. I think of my future children and the life I want them to have. They deserve a better planet than the one I’m leaving them so I strive to make it better day by day. 

That said, mistakes and slip-ups will happen. We’re only human after all and I believe in progress over perfection!

To end this post, I thought I’d leave you with a quote to inspire you as you contemplate making eco-friendly changes in your life. Let me know what feelings and thoughts it evokes for you.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”― Jane Goodall

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