The clothing industry is the second largest industry responsible for polluting the world. Clothing that goes to stores is often displayed for two or three weeks, then it is subject to attractive price reductions, and yet it is not sold. This is how the problem arises, because completely new T-shirts or pants are thrown away to make room for new collections of clothes. Additionally, clothes made of synthetic fabrics can biodegrade for up to 200 years, contributing to the formation of greenhouse gases and increasing water consumption.
Fashion trends change much faster than the seasons
The clothing market has changed from a seasonal style of selling clothes to becoming a financial hunter for fashion customers. The modern consumer has already lost the cult and respect for clothing worn seasonally. This is largely due to the so-called fast fashion, which consists in cheap, fast production and impulse buying, and thus in the short-term use of clothing. Well-known fashion brands now produce twice as many collections, and despite their production costs, they still make huge profits. This success is largely put down to the low production costs that are the result of child labour in sewing factories, low wages and the lack of insurance for workers, especially those from poor Asian countries. On the other hand, well-functioning marketing focused on online sales is very important. New clothes are cheap, so the consumer buys them in excess. As they are made of low-quality fabrics, they wear out quickly and are therefore replaced with new ones of an equally poor quality. As a result, the wardrobes are bursting at the seams, and the growing desire to have new clothes is satisfied with the purchase of new items.
The main goal of fast fashion is to produce as many clothes as possible, in the shortest possible time and as cheaply as possible
Are you aware that about 100 million items of clothing are produced each year, and only less than 1% of clothing and textiles are transformed into new clothing and fabrics? Unfortunately, the rest of the garments are thrown away, which largely applies to hundreds of brand-new clothes. The largest clothes landfill is located in Chile, where approximately 59,000 tons of textiles are dumped each year. Less than 20 thousand tons are sold for pennies to entrepreneurs from South America, and about 40 thousand tonnes end up in gigantic illegal garbage dumps in the Atacama Desert. The scale of the problem is huge and it also concerns the issue of non-biodegradation of clothing. Clothes that are made of synthetic or chemically treated fabrics can take up to 200 years to biodegrade.
It is assumed that the clothing industry is also responsible for the generation of approx. 8% of greenhouse gases and 20% of total water consumption in the world. The production of one pair of jeans consumes as much as 7.5 thousand litres of water. According to a 2019 UN report, this translates into the amount of water one person drinks for seven years. It is also estimated that the fashion industry uses approx. 93 billion cubic meters of water each year, which translates into satisfying the thirst of approx. 5 million people.
Buy wisely, use longer
Fast fashion is constantly evolving, and the problem is growing, so the only right solution is in our hands - all consumers. Undoubtedly, the business model of fashion requires radical changes and slowing down the production of clothes, which leads to a return to slow fashion. This concept is associated with reducing the production of clothing, minimizing the purchase of clothing made of low-quality textiles and the purchase of high-quality clothing with a longer lifetime.