The fashion industry produces 92 million tons of textile waste every year, and this number is expected to increase by 60% by 2030.
Written by Senthil Sankar, Managing Partner at Shree Renga Polymers & EcoLine Clothing
Fast fashion refers to the quick production and consumption of trendy garments and accessories. It has become a pervasive force in the fashion industry, with retailers churning out new collections every few weeks to meet growing consumer demand for inexpensive and fashionable clothing.
However, this model has a significant impact on the environment and society. In this article, we will explore the effects of fast
fashion on the environment and society and suggest what consumers can do to make a difference.
Impact of Fast Fashion on the Environment
The environment bears a significant burden due to the fast fashion industry. The production of fast fashion necessitates vast amounts of natural resources, including energy, and raw materials. According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and its energy consumption exceeds that of aviation and shipping industries combined.
In addition to this, fast fashion also generates a significant amount of waste. The industry relies on a linear model of production and consumption, where clothing is produced, sold, and disposed of quickly.
According to the Global Fashion Agenda, the fashion industry produces 92 million tons of textile waste every year, and this number is expected to increase by 60% by 2030.
It is unfortunate that the impact of fast fashion on the environment extends beyond waste and carbon emissions. The production of clothing also requires the use of water, with estimates suggesting that it takes 2,700 liters of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt.
The use of toxic chemicals in textile production also poses a risk to the environment, since they often contaminate waterways and harm wildlife.
Impact of Fast Fashion on Society
The fast fashion industry also has a significant impact on society, particularly on the workers who produce clothing. The industry is known for its reliance on low-wage labor in developing countries, where workers often face poor working conditions and extended hours.
According to a report by Oxfam, workers in Bangladesh and Vietnam earn less than a living wage, and some work up to 14 hours a day.
The fast fashion industry also contributes to the exploitation of workers, particularly women, who make up the majority of the industry’s workforce.
A report by the Clean Clothes Campaign found that garment workers in Bangladesh and India are often subjected to verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and physical violence.
What Consumers Can Do to Make a Difference
As consumers, we hold immense power in our hands to reduce the ill-effects of fast fashion. One way we can achieve this is by making conscious choices about the clothes we buy and wear.
Instead of purchasing numerous low-quality garments that wear out quickly, we should choose high-quality, long-lasting clothing items, including those from second-hand stores. This not only reduces waste but also supports local businesses and charities.
In addition to choosing high-quality clothing, we should also support sustainable brands that prioritize ecological and ethical production practices.
Many brands are now using eco-friendly materials and manufacturing processes, and are committed to fair labor practices and ensuring a living wage for workers. By supporting these brands, we can send a message to the fashion industry that we care about
sustainability and ethical production.
Reducing our overall consumption is another important step in reducing the impact of fast fashion. We should only buy what we need and consider reusing and repurposing clothing whenever possible. When it’s time to dispose of clothing, we should consider donating it to charity or recycling it.
This reduces the amount of textile waste that ends up in landfills and minimizes the industry’s environmental impact. Education is also crucial in making a difference as consumers.
By learning about how fast fashion impacts us, we can make informed choices about our purchases. By spreading this information and encouraging others to make conscious choices, we can create a ripple effect that contributes to a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry.
It is worth noting that the responsibility for reducing the impact of fast fashion does not solely rest on the shoulders of consumers. Fashion companies and policymakers also have a role to play in creating a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry.
Fashion companies must prioritize sustainability and ethical production practices, and policymakers should regulate the industry to ensure fair labor practices and environmental protections.
By choosing quality over quantity, supporting sustainable brands, reducing consumption, and educating ourselves and others, we can help reduce the impact of fast fashion on the environment and improve working conditions for garment workers. Together, we can create a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry that benefits everyone.