Fast Fashion and Its Environmental Impact in 2024

Clothing retailers like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M make cheap and fashionable clothing to satisfy the needs of young consumers. Yet, fast fashion has a significant environmental impact. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the industry is the second-biggest consumer of water and is responsible for about 10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Unfortunately, fast fashion problems are often overlooked by consumers.

What Is Fast Fashion?

The term ‘fast fashion’ has become more prominent in conversations surrounding fashion, sustainability, and environmental consciousness. The term refers to ‘cheaply produced and priced garments that copy the latest catwalk styles and get pumped quickly through stores in order to maximise on current trends’.

The fast fashion model is so-called because it involves the rapid design, production, distribution, and marketing of clothing, which means that retailers are able to pull large quantities of greater product variety and allow consumers to get more fashion and product differentiation at a low price.