How is fast fashion harming our planet?

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is a term being used frequently within media, but what does it actually mean?

Fast fashion is the quick turnaround of new styles, increased number of clothing collections offered per year, and considerably low prices. So collections are no longer changing per season, but multiple times per season. Quality of clothing is decreasing as people are less likely to wear things more than 10 times. Customers are choosing quantity over quality.

Hence why the fashion industry is now one of the most environmentally damaging industries. In fact, it is now the worlds second biggest polluting industry after oil. Retailers have such a high demand from customers to keep up styles but unfortunately this increases their carbon footprint.

1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions were produced globally by the fashion industry in 2015, with this number significantly rising each year.

Clothing styles are usually inspired by recent trends seen on celebrities as well as on social media. The clothes that are purchased have a low price tag, and in turn are usually of very low quality, meaning that it is tough to wear them often, and they usually get thrown out.

The average person only wears about 20% of the clothing in their wardrobe. People are buying twice as many items of clothes than they did 10 years ago.

The United Kingdom has the highest consumption of clothing per person compared to the rest of Europe. Just in the UK alone, 235 million items of clothing were sent to landfill where they will last for over 200 years. Each tonne of clothing sent to landfill produces 445kgCO2e- which is one of the highest figures of anything going into landfill.

Why is fast fashion bad for the environment?

The fashion industry produces 10% of the worlds carbon emissions, and it is the worlds second biggest polluting industry. Here are some quick facts:

  • Fast fashion items are worn less than 5 times

  • Items are kept for 35 days

  • Mostly made from polyester as it is cheap

Polyester is a man-made fibre made from oil, a non-renewable resource. It can take up to 200 years to degrade in landfill sites!

Over 70 million barrels of oil are used to produce the polyester every year. It is also mixed harsh chemical dyes making it impossible to degrade.

Not only that, but when we wash our low quality man-made fabrics, plastic microfibres from the clothes end up in our water supply, eventually ending up in the sea and harming marine animals. A study carried out by Plymouth University showed that an alarming 700,000 tiny plastic fibres end up in the ocean per every laundry cycle. The poor marine life end up eating these fibres which can be toxic and harmful. This also ends up in the human food chain.

What can we do to help?

There is no simple answer, there are a lot of solutions to overcoming this problem.

We can buy quality > quantity, looking for items that last longer and that are more durable. We can become conscious consumers and take measures to understand whether the retailer we are purchasing from pays the living wage and does not use child labour in their production factories.

We can buy clothing from companies that use recycled materials or even buy second hand. We can take part in clothes swap parties or look to rent clothing for special occasions. We can move away from impulse buying and think more long term.

How do Kleiderly help?

We are tackling the problem of ‘waste’ clothing by using circular economy principles to capture the value of the waste. We use this ‘waste’ and turn it into a new material which can be used for multiple purposes. We want to be sure that textiles no longer end up in landfill or incineration, and reduce the environmental impact that clothing is having on society. For more information about this check out the ‘Our Work’ page of our website.

We all have a social responsibility to try our best to leave the planet in a better place. So lets work together to see how we can help reduce our carbon footprint.

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/people-dont-wear-most-of-their-clothes-2013-4?IR=T

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45745242

https://www.greenmatters.com/style/2018/08/28/ybXGX/fast-fashion-impacts-environment



Alina Bassi