How Fast Fashion is Affecting the Environment

People start buying new clothes as the weather changes. The majority of customers are more concerned with the utility of their seasonal clothing than with the environmental impact. Purchasing habits can have a major impact on atmospheric and surface-level degradation over time.

The retail industry is dominated by disposable apparel firms, which pollutes the water and air. The different harmful impacts on the environment remain a prominent concern among the various difficulties surrounding fast fashion and how its industry has been able to thrive.

What is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion is a term that refers to apparel that is produced fast and at a low cost in order to meet fleeting trends. The fast fashion model is a streamlined method that entails quick design, production, distribution, and marketing, allowing merchants to stock smaller quantities of a wider range of styles at a lower price point. Companies engage in environmentally damaging procedures in order to manufacture vast quantities of clothes at a low cost.

Many customers purchase items from fast fashion companies without fully comprehending the consequences of their decisions. The sector is the world’s third-largest manufacturer. It generates a large amount of global carbon emissions, from manufacturing to transportation.

Fast fashion clothing make up nearly three out of every five that end up in landfills till they degrade. Illegal wastewater dumping and microplastic contamination are also consequences of non-sustainable manufacturing practices. Environmentalists are concerned about water scarcity in the disposable fashion sector.

Impact of the Fast Fashion

Water Consumption

The fashion sector is the world’s second-largest water user. A cotton shirt takes roughly 700 gallons of water to make, whereas a pair of jeans takes 2,000 gallons. The global supply of safe drinking water is being depleted as a result of the overuse of freshwater resources for fast fashion manufacturing. Pesticides, which are frequently employed in cotton production, damage soil and groundwater, making textile dyes the world’s second-largest polluter of water. These chemicals can leak into waterways if environmental controls aren’t in place, posing serious health concerns to farmers, workers, and their communities.

Microplastic Waste

Another negative consequence of fast fashion on the environment is the use of synthetic fibres. Companies try to save money by making garments out of plastic strands. Synthetic fabrics reduce production costs and processing time while also polluting the environment with microplastics.

Microplastics breakdown in the wastewater when fast fashion items are washed in the washing machine. Synthetic fibres are released into the environment as the machine drains surplus water. They enter marine environments via runoff and have negative consequences when swallowed by animals.

Microplastics can cause neurological problems in aquatic animals and then spread up the food chain, posing health risks to people. Synthetic fibres demand a lot of energy to make, which contributes to the increased greenhouse effect.

Human Rights Violation

Fast fashion has an impact on a variety of human rights issues, particularly in the global south, where fast fashion businesses and their suppliers can take advantage of low-cost labour and loose environmental standards. According to the non-profit Remake, young women between the ages of 18 and 24 make up 80% of all apparel.

Forced and child labour was discovered in the fashion sector in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam, and other countries, according to a study released by the US Department of Labor in 2018. In textile factories across Southeast Asia, the pandemic exacerbated harassment and gender-based violence. Workers’ pay were dramatically reduced during this time, despite the fact that output targets continued to rise.

Excessive consumption of clothing

The worth of clothing may decline in the eyes of consumers due to how accessible it is and how new trends persuade them to seek out more. According to the most recent statistics, 62 million metric tonnes of clothes were consumed globally in 2019. In recent decades, the amount of food consumed by our civilization has risen. Although it may be good to our economy, more items wind up in landfills since lower-quality clothing wears out after only a few washes, necessitating the purchase of more new clothing.

Among the many challenges that exist, the two most pressing ones are piles of clothing in landfills and clothing that has been burnt. Whether it’s because they’ve outgrown their clothes or because they’re no longer fashionable, a large section of the population prefers to discard their belongings rather than donate them. Furthermore, because to the great number of cut outs for clothes, a lot of materials are lost because they can’t be used for another sort of manufacture. 57 percent of all abandoned clothing ends up in landfills, which begin to pile up before being transferred to a region where it will be burnt. Because toxic compounds or vast amounts of dangerous gases are generated as a result of burning landfill, this procedure poses many public health and environmental risks to individuals living in neighbouring towns.

What Can We Do To Stop Fast Fashion?

Since the rise of fast fashion in the early 2000s, irreversible damage has been done to our environment, and the misery experienced by people directly affected by the effects cannot be undone. If current global economic trends continue, the fast fashion business will continue to expand, posing more risks. The only way to properly fight back is to damage fast fashion’s basic source: demand.

Fast fashion arises only as a result of firms intentionally inducing customer desire. Fast fashion firms constantly target consumers in new, imaginative ways to convince them to keep consuming their products by lowering the quality of their clothes and instead focusing their vast money on advertising and marketing. To reduce the need for new clothing, customers should make the conscious decision to buy less new apparel and wear their old things for longer periods of time. This will also help to reduce the amount of waste dumped on land and the rate at which our oceans and waterways become poisoned. Our demand for “new” fashion, on the other hand, will always persist, and we’ll need a new, circular, and sustainable model to satisfy our desires while avoiding the consequences.


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