Fast Fashion makes clothes more affordable but what are the real costs?
- The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions (4-5 Billion tonnes annually). 1
- The fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply (79 Trillion litres per year). 3
- And is responsible for 20% of industrial water pollution. 4
- Fashion contributes 35% of oceanic primary micro plastic pollution. (190,000 tonnes per year). 5
- Produces 92 million tonnes of textile waste that ends up in landfills or is burnt. This includes unsold inventory. 6
Fig. 1 Projected Increase in Textile related pollution based in current trends. 2
If the fashion industry continues with business as usual by 2050 it could be responsible for 26% of human carbon emissions, consume 3 times as much oil (300 million tonnes) and produce 22 million tonnes of oceanic micro plastic. (see fig. 1)
What do we gain for the loss of our planet?
85% of all textiles are dumped every year! The equivalent of 1 garbage truck full of clothes is burnt or dumped in a landfill every second! 7
Fast fashion has changed our relationship with clothing. Taking advantage of short term endorphin rushes induced by new purchases, the industry has undermined longterm relationships with meaningful garments.
Fig. 2 Shows our changing relationship with clothing.
This reduction in utilization has lead to the vicious cycle that is driving fast fashion. Cheaper garments don’t last as long and are designed with less care. After the initial purchasing rush has worn off they lack long-term appeal and comfort.
Our relationship with fashion has become a drug, clothing has lost its utility. Fashion is no longer an expression of human creativity and engineering. Instead we are left with a hollow caricature that sacrifices our planet for the sake of profits and growth.
- Quantis - Measuring fashion: insights from the environmental impact of the global apparel and footwear industries. Full report and methodological considerations. quantis-intl.com (https://quantis-intl.com/measuring-fashion-report) (2018).
- Ellen MacArthur Foundation - A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashions Future. (https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Summary-of-Findings_Updated_1-12-17.pdf) (2017)
- Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) & The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) - Pulse of the fashion industry. globalfashionagenda.com (https://www.globalfashionagenda.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Pulse-of-the-Fashion-Industry_2017.pdf) (2017).
- Kant, R. Textile dyeing industry: An environmental hazard. Natural Science 4 1, 22–26 (2012).
- United Nations Climate Change - UN helps fashion industry shift to low carbon. unfccc.int (https://unfccc.int/news/un-helps-fashion-industry-shift-to-low-carbon) (2018).
- Dahlbo, H.,et al. - H. Increasing textile circulation — consequences and requirements. Sustain. Prod. Consumption 9, 44–57 (2017).
UN Environment Programme - Putting the Brakes on Fast Fashion. (https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/putting-brakes-fast-fashion) (2018).