Did you know that globally we consume about 80 billion new pieces of clothing annually? This is a 400% increase from the annual consumption rate two decades ago.
Fast fashion is a contemporary term referring to fashion companies responding quickly to changing fashion trends in making low-cost clothing available and accessible quicker in store in order to maximise revenue growth. In response to the constantly changing fashion, it generates a fast-response consumerist behaviour that encourages disposability before its worn.
Why should we care? The concept of Fast Fashion actually involves many environmental and social impacts that we need to consider. Fast Fashion has created a cycle of consumption and discarding. On average, a piece of clothing is only worn 7 times before it is discarded or disposed. The world's natural resources cannot keep up with our demand for throw away fashion. This type of behaviour is unsustainable considering the amount of waste sent to landfill, the related pollution and rapid depletion of natural resources.
What are the impacts of Fast Fashion?
- Significant Resource Consumption:
- It can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton which is enough to produces one T-shirt and one pair of jeans.
- 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced annually, each pair produced consuming 7,000 Litres of water.
- Waste Production: Just within Australia, 6,000kg of clothing and textile waste is going to landfill every 10 minutes! Once the waste is dumped, it doesn’t just stop there. Depending on landfill conditions, it may sit for various lengths of time until it decomposes: Cotton Gloves takes 3 months to decompose; Wool Clothing takes 1-5 years to decompose; Leather shoes takes 25-40 years to decompose; and Nylon Fabric takes 30-40 years to decompose!!
- More than 50% of all clothing is now made from polyester which is essentially a plastic and takes up to 200 years to breakdown in landfill.
- Supply Chain: The pressure to deliver quality goods within a short production timeframe may encourage unethical production from sweatshops, where employees are working long hours in an unsafe environment with minimal pay.
- Pollution: The printing and dyeing processes are particularly chemical intensive with wastewater discharged into our waterways. This wastewater is often filled with hazardous chemicals and large amount of oil.
What can we do?
- Reduce the rate of fashion consumption! Consider buying fewer clothes and buying them less often.
- Support smaller businesses, fair trade and locally-made clothes.
- Choose quality over quantity—avoid cheap garments made from synthetic fabrics like polyester that is more resource intensive and takes longer to decompose.
- 95% of clothes that are thrown away can be either re-worn, reused or recycled. Please recycle or donate your old clothing rather than sending it to landfill!
- Become a conscious consumer to prevent the spread of fast fashion. Educate yourself on environmentally friendly materials.
Already doing something?
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