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Fashion waste is costing the global economy more than $400 BILLION every year, according to a recent World Economic Forum report. And this is just the economic impact of fashion waste, Beyond economic loss, fashion waste leads to environmental disasters.
The fashion industry is one of the major polluting industries in the world. The production and distribution of the crops, fibers, and garments used in fashion all contribute to different forms of environmental pollution, including water, air, and soil pollution. The fashion industry is one of the biggest in the world, accounting for 2% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Unfortunately, it’s also now one of the biggest polluters in the world—second only to oil.
The amount of new garments bought by Americans has tripled since the 1960s. This exponential increase causes the need for more resources and the need for a speedier process from which clothes are produced. One of the main contributors to the rapid production of pollution is the rapid production of clothes due to the rapid consumption of customers. Every year the world as a whole consumes more than 80 billion items of clothing. Those clothes contribute to resource pollution and waste pollution because most of these items will one day be thrown out. People are consuming more and they want it for cheaper prices. And the companies producing these cheap items who are making a profit want the clothes as fast as possible, this creates a trend called fast fashion. fast-fashion creates, annually, over $500 bn worth of waste
The environmental impact of this behavior is significant: the clothing and textile industry is depleting non-renewable resources, emitting huge quantities of greenhouses gases, and using massive quantities of energy, chemicals, and water. The synthetic fibers often favored by fast fashion brands, such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic, are a kind of plastic made from petroleum, which means they could take up to a thousand years to biodegrade.
Fast fashion is harmful from a social perspective, too. According to an April 2016 Oxfam report, more than 60 million people work in the garment industry to fuel fast fashion: more than 15 million of those are based in Asia and more than 80% are women, often young and from poor rural backgrounds
Textile waste is estimated to increase by about 60% between 2015 and 2030, with an additional new 57 million tons of waste being generated annually, reaching an annual total of 148 million tons. On average, consumers throw away 60% of their clothes in the first year. In 2020 an estimated 18.6 million tones of clothing will end up in a landfill. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation reports that if this trend continues, over 150 million tonnes of clothing waste will clog landfills by 2050.
Clothing manufacturing creates over half a million tonnes of microfibre pollution that ends in the ocean. Half a million tones of microfibre are equivalent to 50 billion plastic bottles, each year.
The reason behind the fashion waste problem
- Clothing is cheap that means consumers buy new clothing often leads to a high volume of clothing in landfill
- Production time is short in a fast-fashion model that leads to quality failures and promotes consumers to buy more
- Workers aren’t properly trained due to fast fashion requirements that lead to quality failures and low-quality products
- Clothing is quickly discarded by the consumer that increases the load on landfills
- Social media has created and reinforced the fast fashion business model.
Source: Wikipedia.org / sustainability.uq.edu.au /wtvox