Fast fashion is the practice of producing clothing and other consumer goods at a high rate of speed. This can be done by using automated production lines to make clothing, making the same items repeatedly to get them out quickly, or using cheaper materials that don’t last long. Most fast fashion brands use both approaches.
The following points list all the factors that contribute to negative fast fashion environmental impact:
Most items are made of synthetic materials
If you’ve ever shopped at a fast fashion store, you’ve likely noticed that many items are made of synthetic materials. Synthetic materials are made from nonrenewable resources like petroleum, oil and gas (both of which come from fossil fuels) or coal. They can also be manufactured from natural gas.
Fast fashion’s dependence on these nonrenewable resources means that as more garments are produced in factories and shipped around the world, more nonrenewable resources will be used up—and their harmful impact on the environment will grow accordingly.
Rely heavily on plastic packaging
The use of plastic packaging is a major source of ocean pollution. According to the World Economic Forum, over 300 million tons of plastic enter oceans each year. Every piece of clothing you purchase from fast fashion stores comes with a plastic shopping bag or plastic sleeve wrapped around it while on display in the store. This excess packaging is not recyclable, and nonrenewable resources are used in its production.
Uses lots of water in production
The fabric used in fast fashion is mostly cotton, which requires a lot of water to grow. Cotton needs more than 40 inches (1 metre) of rainfall each year and uses up to 25 gallons (95 litres) of water per pound. Fast fashion brands also use lots of water in production: dyeing and finishing require chemicals like acid solutions and bleach, while washing uses even more water. This is why these fabrics contribute significantly to the fast fashion environmental impact.
In addition to using a lot of water during production, fast fashion companies also use large amounts for irrigating their cotton fields. Cotton fields are often located in arid regions with limited access to clean drinking water, which may be affecting local communities’ ability to get enough clean water for personal use or agriculture!
Waste disposal is a significant concern for the fast fashion industry. The waste generated by fast fashion is not biodegradable and cannot be recycled. It’s also not compostable, reusable or safe for disposal.
You might think recycling or reusing your old clothes would help you avoid contributing to this problem, but clothes are made with synthetic fibres that won’t break down in landfills. This means that even if you donate clothes to charity, they could still end up in a landfill—and even if you recycle them yourself, they’ll still needlessly use up natural resources like water and energy during production (as opposed to using the same amount of water and energy to make new products).
The ocean is being polluted with fast fashion. Fast fashion is a significant source of plastic pollution in the oceans and seas. This can be seen through the fact that every year, 300 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, equivalent to around eight full garbage trucks per minute!
Fast fashion is also a major contributor to microplastic pollution. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that the naked eye cannot see—and they’re polluting waters at an alarming rate (and they’re also affecting human health). If you want the oceans back, you must stop throwing away so much fashion waste!
While fast fashion may seem like a great idea at first, the reality is that it is doing more harm than good to the environment. It’s time you stop supporting this unsustainable model and find ways to make clothes made of wool or environment-friendly material that last longer so you can all live in harmony with nature.