How Bad Is Fast Fashion? A Look at its Environmental Impacts

Hi everyone,

I want to go into more detail about the environmental impacts fast fashion has since there are so many things to be considered. Below, I’ve created a list of some of the top reasons as to why fast fashion is hurting the environment.

  1. High Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Fast fashion makes up 10% of the world’s global carbon dioxide emissions, meaning that it emits around 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (that’s even more than what international flights emit). Experts say that by 2030 our greenhouse gas emissions from fast fashion will increase by 50%. This is extremely detrimental to the environment as it will contribute to climate change and tons of waste that cannot be broken down.
  2. Increased Water Usage: Fashion uses a lot of water to generate textiles. It takes about 2,000 gallons of water in order to make one pair of jeans alone. That amount of water could last the average person 11 years! Additionally, sourcing and cultivating cotton requires 20,000 liters of water just to produce around 2 pounds of material. With around 2 million people affected by water shortages, fashion contributes to the problem of water usage and water waste.
  3. Extreme Waste: Around 85% of all textiles made in the fashion industry go to waste each year, with America contributing 82 pounds of textiles going to waste. Many people choose to recycle their clothes and hope that it will be better for the environment, but what’s sad is that only 12% of recycled material gets used again. Unfortunately, around 10,000 items of clothing gets taken to a landfill every five minutes.
  4. Pollutants in Water: 500,000 microfibers infiltrate our water each year due to the effects of fast fashion, and around 80-90% of the wastewater is returned back into the environment without being cleaned and treated. Food sources end up being contaminated because this untreated water can end up in streams and groundwater.
  5. Increased Energy Usage: 2% of the world’s energy usage comes from fast fashion alone. Turning plastic fiber into textile requires a huge amount of energy and releases petroleum and hydrogen chloride back into the atmosphere. While using energy to create garments is convenient, it has harmful effects for both how much energy it uses and how many chemicals it puts back into the atmosphere.

I hope this was helpful and that I was able to break down some information for you. See you soon with another post!

-Emily Berrol

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