Climate Change Fashion

The incompatibility between the environment and fast fashion

waste of clothes

Clothes dump

It’s time to face reality: the environmental cost of what is defined as fast fashion is no longer sustainable. It has not been for years, yet the fashion industry continues inexorably to grow. Regardless of the environmental and social impact it has around the world, it is responsible for 10 percent of global pollution, winning the second place as the most polluting sector in the world, after oil. It is therefore time to rethink the model behind it. And a slower — and more conscious — fashion seems to be the future.

It is necessary to slow down production rates, ensure higher product quality, which consequently can have a longer life cycle, invest in more sustainable practices, reduce waste and start thinking about sustainability as an absolute priority. But, as we know, it has always been demand that has driven supply, so it is essential that consumers also change their approach to purchases, favoring garments that are perhaps more expensive but certainly more durable.

The environmental impact of the fashion industry

New research published in Nature reviews Earth and environment examines the environmental impact of each step of the textile industry supply chain, from production to consumption, focusing specifically on water use, chemical pollution, carbon and textile waste. The data are disconcerting: 1,500 billion liters of water are consumed every year, the processing and dyeing of fabrics are responsible for about 20 percent of industrial water pollution, about 35 percent (i.e. 190,000 tons per year. ) of the microplastics that populate the oceans is attributable to the washing of synthetic fiber garments and textile waste exceeds 92 million tons every year.

Wastes that are not only products that have reached the end of their life cycle, but also include the unsold clothing brands that must make room for new collections. Well, these wastes, to be disposed of, are very often burned or sent to landfills.

But these data alone represent a partial snapshot of the current picture, which is completed by analyzing consumers’ purchasing habits. It is undeniable that over the years there has been a substantial increase in the purchase of clothes, which is matched by an increase in textile production, which went from 5.9 to 13 kilograms per capita per year in the period 1975–2018.

Likewise, global consumption has risen to around 62 million tonnes of textiles per year and is projected to reach 102 million tonnes by 2030. That’s why fashion brands today produce nearly double the amount of clothing. compared to before 2000, when the fast fashion phenomenon began.

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