Talking to kids about fast fashion and the environment

TikTok ‘haul’ videos promote cool clothes—but children likely aren’t aware that the content could be impacting the planet.

Scrolling through TikTok, your kids probably see goofy jokes, lip-synching videos … and lots and lots of clothes. That’s because fashion hauls—videos in which an influencer rips open packages stuffed with new clothes and models them in front of the camera—are all over social media.

On TikTok, “#haul” videos have racked up 13.2 billion views; on Instagram, 2.5 million posts include the hashtag. And if you’ve ever found yourself on the receiving end of a child begging for new clothes they’ve seen on social media, you know how tough it can be to argue against an influencer.

But children probably aren’t aware of the environmental impact that experts fear these videos are having. The content often features what’s known as fast fashion: mass-produced, ultra-trendy, inexpensive clothing made with cheap fabrics that are made at breakneck speeds by low-wage workers. In fact, a report from Rest of World, a journalism nonprofit organization, found that between July and December 2021, fast-fashion company Shein added between 2,000 and 10,000 new styles to its app each day.

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