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Here’s the trick that fast fashion plays on your brain—and the ugly consequences

People shop at H&M on Thanksgiving Day in New York November 28, 2013. Some early U.S. shoppers headed to stores on Thanksgiving Day in search of discounted holiday gifts on a day long reserved for American families to bond over turkey and football. Macy's Inc and a slew of other stores are opening later on Thanksgiving for the first time ever in a bare-knuckle brawl for a bigger slice of holiday sales.
Reuters/Eric Thayer
Behind the urge to grab.
  • Tim Fernholz
By Tim Fernholz

Senior reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

This week, Actuality slips into some fast fashion and learns how it pushes your brain’s buttons to make you buy. But the trick means hiding the true cost of the clothes—including some surprisingly bad news for the environment.

Plus, bitter cats.

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This episode is based on Marc Bain’s reporting on the neuroscience of fast fashion, its environmental consequences, and the importance of buying expensive goods. We talk to Scott Rick, a professor of management at the University of Michigan, about his research on what our brains do when we shop. We also speak to Linda Greer, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, about her efforts to clean up the fashion industry in China. Our surprising discovery—about why cats are such fussy eaters—was unearthed by Akshat Rathi.

Actuality is a podcast jointly produced by Quartz and Marketplace, hosted by Tim Fernholz and Sabri Ben-Achour. Follow Actuality on Twitter, and let us know what you think of the show!

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