Within the last couple of years, climate and environmental issues have become a topic of wide-scale debate, and the fast fashion industry is partially to blame for a rapid decline in the health of the planet.

When walking through H&M and Forever 21, or scrolling online at stores such as Shein or Romwe looking for inexpensive clothes that are “in” this season, it’s important to consider where the clothes are made. There’s a reason the clothes are so cheap and such low-quality.

Fast fashion is a term “to describe clothes that are inspired by recent style trends seen on celebrities and on the runway for an affordable price for the average consumer,” Koty Neelis said in a blog post for Green Matters — an online publication that discusses a range of issues that affect the environment today

It is easy to choose fast fashion, especially as college students who are paying tuition, preparing to pay off debt or just trying to make it financially week to week. But choosing the poorest quality and inexpensive option will have lasting effects on the environment in the long run.

“The apparel industry accounts for 10 percent of global carbon emissions and remains the second largest industrial polluter, second only to oil,” Neelis wrote in that post. On top of the enormous carbon footprint fast fashion leaves, the clothes are primarily made with polyester. 

Summer Edwards runs an environmental blog, Tortoise and Lady Grey, and she discusses the effects of polyester on the environment in one of her posts

“More than 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester each year. It is not biodegradable and will persist in the ecosystem even as it eventually breaks apart,” Edwards wrote in that post, highlighting the risk that using such a harmful fabric has on the environment. 

But there is still hope. Not all polyester is harmful, depending on how the fabric is manufactured. Polyester can be made from recycled products, not just oil, and by utilizing plastic that was going to end up in a landfill or oceans, we can begin to do better. 

That not only affects the environment; it also heavily damages consumers’ wallets in the long-run. It is tempting to quickly buy ten or more articles of clothing at once that you could get for the price of two pieces from a smaller business. But this is not the best option. 

“Fast fashion items are often worn less than 5 times (and) kept for roughly 35 days,” Neelis said, making it apparent how unreasonable clothes produced through fast fashion really are on average.

It is time to use better solutions. Instead of going to H&M, opt for local businesses and slowly save up to invest in quality clothing or try to support brands that up-cycle products that also last longer. That will not only start to save you money, but your planet as well. 

Rory Ball is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Rory know by tweeting her @roryellizabeth.