Fast Fashion’s Detrimental Effect on the Environment
10 April 2022
Fashion accounts for 10% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of global wastewater and consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industries. ‘quick fashion has become increasingly popular in discussions about fashion, sustainability, and environmental awareness. In the circular economy, fast fashion negatively impacts climate change.
Fast Fashion’s Environmental Consequences
Fast fashion has several negative environmental consequences, including the depletion of nonrenewable resources, the generation of greenhouse gases, and the huge consumption of water and energy. The fashion industry is the second highest water consumer, with one cotton shirt requiring 700 gallons of water and a pair of jeans requiring 2000 gallons. According to Business Insider, textile dyeing is also the world’s second-largest polluter of water because wastewater from the dyeing process is frequently discharged into ditches, streams, and rivers.
In addition, manufacturers employ synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, and acrylic, which take hundreds of years to deteriorate. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), synthetic fabrics like polyester contribute 35 percent of all microplastics in the ocean. According to The True Cost, a 2015 documentary, the world consumes around 80 billion new articles of clothing each year, 400% more than it did twenty years ago. Every year, the average American generates 82 pounds of textile trash. Because the chemicals required to tan leather—mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils and dyes—are not biodegradable and damage water sources, tanning is one of the most damaging processes in the entire fashion production chain.
- Making plastic fibers into textiles is a high-energy process that uses a lot of petroleum and produces a lot of volatile particulate matter and acids like hydrogen chloride. Cotton, which is used in many fast fashion items, is also not made in an environmentally beneficial manner. Farmers’ health is jeopardized by pesticides deemed vital for cotton growth.
- More ecological textiles that can be used in clothes to counteract the waste created by rapid fashion include wild silk, organic cotton, linen, hemp, and lyocell.
Fast Fashion’s Social Consequences
Fast fashion also has societal consequences, particularly in underdeveloped countries. According to the non-profit Remake, young women between 18 and 24 make up 80% of all apparel. Forced and child labor was discovered in the fashion sector in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam, and other countries, according to a study released by the US Department of Labor in 2018. Rapid manufacturing means that profits and sales take precedence over human welfare.