We all know that feeling – you walk into a store looking for a quick, cheap fix. Maybe that $30 pair of flats you bought last year just broke and you need a replacement STAT. Or your $5 go-to white cami just ripped and now you’re hunting for a 3 for $10 special so you don’t have to come back to the dreaded mall ever again.
Fast fashion, defined by Google as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends,” dominates today’s shopping experience. Who doesn’t love low costs and extreme convenience?
But did you know that there are some significant hidden costs behind those cheap prices? Let’s dig into the big three:
The fact is, the more stuff you have, the more time you spend taking care of it. When you pare down to the essential and only have to take care of one pair of shoes instead of 15, it opens up a world of possibilities to spend time on the things that are truly important to you. And by choosing to spend more on higher quality items, you not only save money in the long run, but you also save the time you’d otherwise spend shopping to replace those poor quality items that fell apart quickly.
Our natural resources are finite, but we rarely take into account how seemingly small actions like purchasing a shirt for $7.99 from a major retailer impacts the environment. The truth is a shirt should never cost $7.99, but it’s something we’ve come to expect. But when a garment is made quickly out of poor quality material and sold for cheap, it usually doesn’t last long. Its around for a season or two and then added to the 15 million tons of textile waste produced by the US each year, 85% of which currently sit in landfills. Living sustainably takes time and effort – you have to do your research and ask tough questions. It usually costs more money, too. But ultimately this effort means you’ll select better products and end up buying less.
The Human Cost
Tons of big name brands utilize sweatshops that place children in unsafe conditions for minimal or no pay all to produce those $7.99 t-shirts. Items we use every day like electronics, coffee, and chocolate are often sourced from countries that rely on slave labor. Coffee plantations in Brazil often exploit their workers and illegal child labor is the backbone of cocoa farming in West Africa. Much of what we purchase is based on convenience for ourselves rather than consideration for all the people behind the scenes. A bit of research and a few extra dollars can help ensure the purchases you make aren’t costing another human life.
When you factor in these hidden costs, spending $200 on a single pair of sustainable, high quality ballet flats doesn’t sound so outrageous. So, the next time you’re looking to purchase a reusable good – do some research, weigh ALL of the costs, and buy from a company that values your time, our environment, and humans.