As I walked through Clover Flat Landfill, the stench hit me like a truck.

Dirty red, yellow, and blue shirts and jeans were piled high among the crushed plastic and trash that lay on the compressed dirt.

I love fashion and have always enjoyed shopping for clothes during the holiday season. My perspective changed when I completed a research paper on the fast fashion industry for my AP English Language class at St. Helena High School.

Fast fashion is defined as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends” (Oxford Dictionaries). Through my research, I learned fashion “is the second most polluting industry on Earth, right behind oil” (Booth Moore) and fast fashion, specifically, plays a role in affecting our Earth’s water pollution, air contamination, and waste buildup: “The average American discards 82 pounds of textile waste a year” (The True Cost).

Many Americans are becoming aware of this global environmental problem and are opting to thrift (secondhand) and buy clothes from ethical brands. Clothes sit in landfills for more than 200 years because most are not biodegradable. In order to hold multinational retailers accountable for the environmental destruction wrought by discarded clothes, consumers are starting to pay attention to the garment’s life cycle.

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