For Vanichi’s Opinions section, Carolyn Bailey shares her thoughts on fast fashion as the true deceiver in American consumerism.

Have you ever checked the tag on your clothing to see where it came from? Typically it will say “Made in China”. It is rare to come across a piece of clothing created in the United States. Beginning in the 1990’s apparel started to be mainly mass-produced overseas using Fast Fashion techniques. Over time this has resulted in poor quality workmanship and fabric. This has also negatively affected the environment and the workers who produce our apparel.  Chemicals are often added to fabrics during production to speed up the process or to lessen the cost of the fabric.  How are these chemicals affecting our health?

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The downgrade in quality of our clothing is something Americans have become accustomed to since manufacturing has moved its way out of the United States. This is all done to save money but where is the real cost? Money is not the only form of value; the ethical treatment of our economy, the environment and more importantly, our fellow humans is the higher cost of Fast Fashion.

Those who are trafficked into slavery and even tortured to make apparel are forced to work in factories for extremely long hours without breaks or normal pay rates and can even face daily abuse. Companies manipulate profit without upholding ethical standards of human life. Apparel made in countries that do not uphold fair labor laws will even employ small children to make apparel. Allowing fast fashion techniques to continue will not improve the environment, quality of life for apparel workers or the quality of our clothing. Change needs to happen sooner than later.

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Our clothing used to be cherished and passed down to loved ones. In 2016, the term “recycle” is popular amongst businesses, charities and homes. Most families will recycle their paper, cans, and plastic. Why does it need to stop there? Repurposing clothing was common. Why not include our clothing in our current efforts to recycle?

Wearing clothes created by bloody, overworked fingers is too high of a cost to save money on clothes that we will need to replace repeatedly. The cost in our pocket is a slow paced sacrifice that is reflected in the quality (or lack thereof) in our clothing worn.

For a country that leaves such a large carbon footprint on the Earth, it should be our responsibility to wear clothes that were something or someone’s in the past. It is our responsibility to create quality fashion locally, creating jobs for ourselves while also practicing ethical manufacturing. These jobs that we are have created in other countries can be created here, stimulating OUR economy, creating ethical apparel while upholding fair wage and labor laws.

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