How does fast fashion affect global pollution, and why should you think twice before leaving the store with bags full of pieces you’ll only wear a couple of times? According to some studies, it is estimated that the fashion industry contributes 10 per cent to the total global pollution, which is a significant share of the negative environmental IMPACT. Thus, fashion pollutes more than dirty industry, seriously impacting the creation of harmful waste, water pollution and its excessive consumption.
The rate of consumerism is increasing year by year and dramatically. As a result, fast fashion brands are trapped in an endless cycle of hyperproduction, churning out new collections at breakneck speed to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of their customers. And all of that comes at a huge price. Wildlife, people, and the environment – all suffer in the process. How will we deal with this growing problem at both the macro and micro levels? However, the good news is – we can still make a difference.
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The numbers are alarming
Did you know that today we buy up to 60 per cent more clothes than 15 years ago? On an annual level, more than 56 million tons of clothing items are purchased, while only 12 per cent are from recycled materials. What about the rest?
Fashion brands prepare up to 52 micro-collections a year! In the past, the fashion world prepared collections for spring/summer and autumn/winter, quality materials were used, and special attention was paid to the fact that clothes can be worn for several seasons, with accessories that would make them trendy pieces even in the new season. Today things are completely different, leading to the mass production of currently fashionable clothes with minimal focus on quality. Hyperproduction can only be profitable with hyper-consumption, so the prices of these pieces have been lowered to make them affordable to the masses. And since the materials are lower quality, the pieces last less than before, so consumers buy new ones much more often. It is estimated that a third of the clothes produced are never even sold, and as many as 92 million tons end up in landfills worldwide. Forecasts are that, unless we do something, we will throw away over 134 million tons of textiles annually by 2030!
Waste is not the only problem. Mass production of clothes also means mass production of raw materials, which requires a lot of resources. The textile industry is responsible for nearly 1.4 billion liters of wastewater with over 70 different toxic substances.
Let’s slow down a bit
How can individuals contribute to reducing the harmful impact on the environment? For starters, let’s change our fashion spending habits.
- Think before you reach for new cloth – do you really need it?
- Make sure of the quality of the material. Artificial materials cause environmental damage – especially polyesters, which require a lot of energy during production, a lot of water for cooling and washing, and a large amount of microplastics that remain in the wastewater, which can end up in the seas and oceans and, therefore, indirectly in our food.
3. Look at the label. Learn more about manufacturers. Explore which brands take care of the production process, from the selection of sustainable or recyclable materials, through printing and dyeing technologies to the socio-economic aspect of supporting factory workers.
4. Choose local, small brands – there is no complicated supply chain and transport, thanks to which the carbon footprint is reduced, but it also allows us to support the local community and designers.
Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine ENERGETIC EFFICIENCY