The costly environmental impact of fast fashion
Clothing and textiles production releases 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases every year – that’s more than the combined emissions for all international flights AND shipping.
And if that’s not alarming enough, try this on for size: One garbage truck of clothing and textiles is sent to landfill or burned every second, while just 1% of clothing is recycled into new clothing.
“Fast fashion” focuses on quick production speeds and lower costs to deliver frequent new collections inspired by celebrity or catwalk styles. Retailers are able to tempt shoppers with constant newness and try to convince them that the items they already have are no longer fashionable.
As pressures to reduce cost and production time in the fashion industry mount, corners are often cut, creating negative environmental impacts. Water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals and increasing levels of textile waste are top concerns.
A new report released by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation argues that the time has come to radically redesign fashion’s future and move towards a more circular model of textile production and usage that reuses materials wherever possible and keeps our clothing in use for longer, leading to better economic, societal, and environmental outcomes.
So what’s the best thing we can do as consumers? The obvious stuff: Keep our clothing in use for longer, shop at thrift or consignment stores, or just buy less new stuff!