Fast Fashion: How Your Clothes Are Harming The Environment

Fast Fashion And It's Environmental Impact

We all love fashion. A walk-in wardrobe filled with clothes from your favorite brand is a dream come true. But before building this wardrobe, go through some of these eye-opening facts and then decide upon choosing between fast fashion and sustainable fashion.   

  • The fashion industry is a contributor to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Approximately 20% of global wastewater comes from the fashion industry. 
  • About 20,000 liters of water are required to produce one kilogram of cotton that is equivalent to a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. 

These facts strongly reflect that some parts of our modern lifestyle are not as bright as they may seem, at least not from the environmental perspective. If these certitudes are not disturbing enough, take a look at this one: Every second, one garbage truck full of textile waste goes to the landfills or is burnt. And fast fashion is a partial reason for this deteriorating condition of the environment.

Fast fashion is all about quick production, low costs, and jumping on the bandwagon of trends. From the consumer’s standpoint, fast fashion is cheap, trendy, and easy to discard. The motto of the producer is to convince the buyer that what he/she already has is out of fashion, and they need to upgrade to what is latest. In this case, accessibility and reach play a crucial role. As compared to, say, 20 years back, today, there is extreme ease in finding and purchasing a plethora of textiles and clothes. Thus, most of the time, buyers do not give a second thought before discarding their old clothes and getting new ones.

What we fail to see is the picture behind the curtains that is the environmental impact of fast fashion. The fashion industry takes a massive toll on the water ecosystem. The toxic dyes used in textile produces 20% of global wastewater. After agriculture, if there is anything that pollutes water, it is the dye used. This wastewater being directly released into rivers and streams poses a threat not only to the water quality but also to marine life. Many textile industries make use of cheap polyester in their fabrics. After every wash of such clothes, microfibers are released into the waterways. There are multiple shreds of evidence of these microfibers and microplastics killing marine animals. It is observed that planktons eat the microfibers, and then they make their way up in the food chain, thus being harmful to humans as well. 

Another issue with fast fashion is the disposal of old clothes. According to the statistics, out of 100%, 85% of the clothes bought end up in landfills every year. Hardly 2% or 3% of them are recycled, and others are just sitting on the dumping grounds for many years. An average piece of polyester requires something between 20 to 200 years to decompose. Thus, the textile waste dumped in landfills ends up polluting the soil and the areas nearby. 

What can be done?

  • Purchase fewer items. If fashion is something that interests you, purchase some classic pieces of clothing and style them up or down with accessories, jewelry, shoes, etc. 
  • Purchase some staple and high-quality clothes which will last you for a long time, thus, creating less waste and being sophisticated and fashionable at the same time.  
  • These days, second-hand clothes are gaining popularity. By purchasing second-hand clothes, you can update your wardrobe without wasting resources or harming the environment. 
  • Avoid impulsive purchases. 
  • Go for clothes made out of organic and natural fabrics like hemp or linen. 

In the end, what matters is your mindset and perspective. Have a constant track of your purchases and make sure that your actions and choices cause as minimum harm as possible.  

Also read: 8 Regional Indian Sarees That Your Wardrobe Must Have

Himani Naik

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