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Are Cheap Clothes Ruining the Planet?

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In “Fashionopolis,” Dana Thomas connects our wardrobes to global economic and climate patterns and crises. She says that very affordable clothing from retailers like Zara and Gap and H&M has created a great deal of waste, much of it containing synthetic microfibers that will not decay.

“Because they’re so cheap, we buy in volume, we buy sacks and sacks of these clothes,” Thomas says on this week’s podcast. “Ninety-nine percent of our garments and our apparel today is not recycled, and most of it winds up in landfill. And the average garment is worn seven times before it’s tossed and that’s all because of the fast fashion revolution.”


Steven Greenhouse visits the podcast this week to discuss his new book, “Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor.” Greenhouse talks about the major problems currently facing the labor movement in the United States, and the ways in which unions lost the power they had in the middle of the 20th century. “Unfortunately there was terrible corruption in many unions in the 1950s and 1960s,” he says, “and that justifiably gave them a black eye, got them very bad press. Unions are much less corrupt now, but that image still lasts.”

Also on this week’s episode, Lauren Christensen, Elisabeth Egan and John Williams talk about what people are reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to books@nytimes.com.

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