How fast fashion exploits people and the planet

It seems that young people have been more critical of established systems than ever before. Unfortunately, the companies that have profited from such systems have been taking notice. When marketing specialists see how teenagers are trying to consume more consciously, all they see is the opportunity to greenwash their stores and website.
Greenwashing is when a company markets their products as clean, sustainable, or good for the environment, yet refuses to provide any examples of how they have changed their means of production or their company structure for the better. Individual companies cannot reverse the damage they have done, the whole system of “buy this to become a different person” needs to be changed.
What has resulted from the aforementioned greenwashing is an aesthetic of being eco-conscious, and the myth that you can buy yourself into a more sustainable life, rather than using what you already own. While the sale of ethically-made clothing and reusable tote bags do make less of an environmental impact compared to hastily-made clothes and paper bags, their lower impact stems from their ability to be used for much longer, eliminating the need for new versions. Yet brands with “eco-conscious” clothing continue to overproduce their regular clothing, undoing any positive change the former could have done.
With this method of masking the true contents of the production system, consumer culture is supported by the origins- extraction. Extraction is the exploitation of natural resources and the abuse of utilizing our Earth’s materials beyond its capabilities. Annie Leanord, founder and owner of the foundation The Story of Stuff, describes the system as, “A linear system with a finite planet,” meaning that the elements of our planet that we use on a daily basis and the ways they support our economy cannot run indefinitely. Once these goods make their way to civilization and the world of production, those materials are combined with toxic chemicals that are responsible for a large majority of the pollution that stems from landfills.
Within the factory world, there are countless issues and hidden destructive qualities that shape the production industry into the flawed, corrupt system we know it to be. The power of the money lies within the hands of the companies that take advantage of the weak factories in third world countries. Since large companies have plenty of room to change their mind and rework plans, they can cancel large product orders that were already well into production, if not already finished. This leaves the factory workers with wasted time, effort, and money, as the companies are not required to reimburse them for the work that they no longer require.
Consumerism is heavily embedded in our society, but can be avoided and fought against. There are many small changes you can make in your everyday life and shopping habits. For example, checking the sustainability of stores that you frequently shop at can help you ensure that the places that get money from you are using it for good. The website Good on You is a great resource for checking the sustainability of almost all popular brands and holding these mass companies accountable for the pollution and waste they cause. All in all, it is our responsibility as members of Earth and contributors to consumer culture to reject the waste of big corporations and not support the pollution of the Earth, and the exploitation of workers.