To the average consumer, the easy access to pocket-friendly fashion accessories and clothing seems like a boon.
The cheap cost of production and seamless supply chains coupled with higher consumer spending has seen a spike in the production and consumption of clothing.
But, what are the implications of the fast-fashion frenzy that has been rising since the turn of millennium in the Western world? Take a look at these facts and consider them on your next shopping spree:
Garment workers in developing countries, especially children, can earn as little as $10 a month for labor-intensive work such as beading and embroidering.
After oil, fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry due to the use of pesticides, formaldehyde, carcinogens etc. in the fabrics that make the clothes we wear.
On average, an individual in the UK produces up to 70 kilograms of fabric waste each year. While cheap and fast fashion allows consumers to spend less, we are also buying more than we need.
In the UK, each household emits about 1.5 tons of CO 2 from new and current clothing. This is equal to a carbon footprint similar to that of an average modern car that covers about 6,000 miles.
Consumers in the USA put out 1.2 million tonnes of clothing waste which is equal to 15 percent of the clothing sales in the country. Up to 50 percent of these clothes are given to charity and about 226,000 tonnes are recycled and reused.
Producing one pair of jeans requires an average of 7,000 liters of water or the equivalent of the amount of water someone in the Western world drinks over a period of five years. Consider that 2 billion pairs of jeans are manufactured every year and 20 percent of the world’s industrial water pollution is attributable to treatment and dying of textiles.
In the USA, consumers wear clothes an average of 4 times with 64 percent saying they do not like a piece of clothing anymore and 40 percent saying the clothing is no longer in fashion as the reason for throwing it out.
One in six people works in garment industries all over the world. Women make up the largest majority of these workers and earn as low as $3 per day.
Just 10 percent of the clothes donated to charity are sold. 90 percent end up in landfills or are sold in developing countries where they contribute to killing the local textile industry.
The world uses an estimated 80 billion pieces of clothing every year, a 400 percent increase from two decades ago.
BONUS FACTS :
Producing 1 kilogram of fabric generates up to 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases while washing and drying 1 kilogram of clothing over its life cycle using conventional methods produces up to 11 kilograms of greenhouse gases.
If 80 percent of people in emerging economies were to achieve similar consumption levels as those in the West by 2025 and the fashion industry does not become more sustainable, the industry’s carbon, water, and land use footprint will increase significantly.
To reduce these adverse impacts, slow fashion and sustainable living is definitely the way to go.