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How Fast Fashion Affects the Environment

Posted on 20 November 2019

While it can be enjoyable shopping for new clothes, fast fashion is having quite a negative effect on the environment. Clothing manufacturing makes up 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution, and around 60% of all clothing produced ends up as landfill. Plus, clothing production uses huge amounts of land too. Here are some other shocking statistics around fashion and its environmental impact. 

• Around the world, the average person purchases 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago. But, they only keep their clothes for half as long!

•  Globally, people purchase around 80 billion pieces of new clothing every year. That’s 400% more than 20 years ago.

• Americans consume the most clothing – on average, around 37kg per year each. Australians are the second-biggest consumers (27kg per year) and Taiwanese citizens are the third-biggest (24kg per year).

• In Australia, around 85% of textiles purchased are sent to landfill each year. This equates to 6 tonnes of clothing textiles being thrown out every 10 minutes!

• In the UK, the water footprint of the average household’s clothing is more than 200,000 litres per year. That’s enough to fill more than 1,000 bathtubs!

• Washing synthetic clothes can be harmful to the environment, as it sends tiny bits of plastic, known as microfibres, into waterways. Washing one synthetic garment can generate more than 1900 microfibres in a single cycle.

• As of 2017, it was estimated that there were 1.4 quadrillion microfibres in the ocean thanks to washing clothes.

• Around 2400 different substances are used to make clothes. Researchers have found that around 30% of these can be harmful to human health.

If you love buying clothes, it is possible to enjoy shopping while having less of a negative impact on the planet. Buying second-hand clothing, donating rather than throwing away old clothing, using clothing recycling programs, and simply buying less are all great ways to lower your footprint.