Fast fashion refers to the trend of producing cheap, disposable clothing at a fast pace to meet consumer demand, usually done to keep up with the latest fashion trend. Regrettably, the extensive and wide-ranging consequences of fast fashion on the environment are substantial, encompassing various aspects such as air and water quality, as well as climate change.
The biggest impact of fast fashion
According to reputable sources, fast fashion exerts a substantial environmental influence primarily through the immense volume of waste it generates. Renowned studies indicate that fast fashion companies produce an astounding quantity of garments annually, with a significant portion ultimately finding its way into landfills or being incinerated. Startlingly, the fashion industry is estimated to contribute approximately 10% of the world’s total carbon emissions, and it generates an alarming 92 million tons of textile waste each year.
We must not underestimate the consequences of clothing decomposition in landfills. As garments break down, they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas that significantly contributes to the acceleration of climate change. Therefore, the environmental impact of fast fashion extends well beyond waste generation, directly contributing to the worsening of global warming.
What does fast fashion involve?
The production of fast fashion requires staggering amounts of water and other natural resources. The most commonly used fabric in fast fashion is cotton. This crop requires a large amount of water to grow, fertilisers and pesticides used when growing cotton contributes to water pollution which has wider health implications.
Naturally, the process of dyeing the clothes in various colors will likely be necessary. Some dyes used in textiles can be toxic and harm aquatic life through polluting the waterways. Let’s not forget about the energy and water needed to heat/cool these machines, which carry their own carbon emmissions.
Then there’s the transportation of these products. Countries where environmental regulations are not prioritised often serve as major production hubs for fast fashion clothing. The pollution generated from factories can have a detrimental impact on the residents who live near these factories.
Social and ethical
The fast fashion industry also has significant social and ethical implications. Producing clothes in developing countries keep costs low but this also allows some companies to exploit their workers. Many workers receive incredibly low wages and frequently endure harsh working conditions.
What can you do about fast fashion?
Thankfully, there are steps we, as consumers, can take to reduce the impact fast fashion has on the environment. The easiest step is to buy less clothing and opt for clothing that high quality that will last a long time. Another great option is to purchase second-hand or clothes swap with friends or family.
Take a closer look at the materials used in clothing and actively choose sustainable options, such as organic cotton or recycled fabrics. These materials require less water and resources to produce and often have lower environmental impacts than traditional fabrics.
Another option is to support companies that prioritise sustainable fashion and ethical production practices. Many brands are looking at their environmental impacts and it’s our responsibility to dig a little deeper to ensure they’re doing what they say they’re doing.
There’s always something we can do do. We, as consumers, have more power than we think we do. If we started turning our backs what some fashion brands are doing and opt for brands to genuinely care about the environment and workers rights, more brands will follow. Money talks!
These are my opinions and some ideas that work for me but may not work for everyone. Here are my terms & conditions for further reading