Fast Fashion Statistics That Will Motivate You to Become a More Mindful Consumer
Sustainability is on just about everyone’s mind these days. But it’s really hard to resist buying a shirt that is both cute and cheap. We all know that waste is bad. But do you know just how wasteful the fast fashion industry is? Whether you’re shopping for yourself or in the market for gifts for parents, read on to find out some astonishing stats on fast fashion that will motivate you to become a more mindful consumer.
Chief Carbon Polluter
Fast fashion comes in only second to the petroleum industry in terms of carbon emissions. It is estimated that 10% of the world’s total carbon output is a direct product of the fast fashion industry, producing some 500 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Fast fashion includes more than just clothes, by the way. Accessories count too. Next time, take a pass on the cheap costume bling and stick to classics that will last like pearl rings and ethically sourced classic gems instead.
Major Water Hog
Fast fashion is a serious water waster. Twenty percent of waste water around the world is caused by the fast fashion industry. Making a single cotton shirt uses about 700 gallons of water. A pair of jeans uses some 1,800 gallons. Worse, water consumption by the fast fashion industry is expected to increase 50% by the year 2030.
One in six workers worldwide is employed by the apparel industry. Fast fashion creates work; what’s so bad about that? Several things. The vast majority, approximately 80% of these employees, are women who work in unsafe, under-regulated conditions, and are underpaid to the point of being virtual slaves. Some 93% of fast fashion brands do not pay their employees a liveable wage.
Closet of Shame
The closet of your typical American contains well over 100 articles of clothing. As if this wasn’t excessive enough, we don’t use most of it. Most people wear just 10%-20% of what they own on any kind of regular basis. Somewhere between 25% and 40% of our clothes don’t even fit, being either too small or too big. Worst of all, about 20% of what we buy only gets worn once or twice — or not at all — before being discarded. Three hundred thousand tonnes of clothing are thrown away annually in the UK.. We buy 60% more clothes than we did 20 years ago and keep them only half as long. Only a tiny percentage, an estimated 15%, gets recycled. The rest winds up in the trash heap. A lorryload of textiles gets incinerated every single minute!
Synthetic clothing can take hundreds of years to break down. Just washing your clothes releases tonnes of microfibers into our waterways where it clogs up both fresh and saltwater sources. About a half a million tonnes of microfibers wind up in the ocean, endangering marine life and polluting our drinking water.
Fast fashion companies do not want you to know what they’re up to. Some of the biggest retailers have the worst transparency scores. Fashion giant H&M was found to have make misleading or false sustainability claims over 90% of the time.
With all these dismal statistics, there is still hope for a better future. Businesses respond to consumer demand, so make your voice heard by voting with your wallet. Support sustainable businesses, buy second-hand, and think twice before you buy anything at all. When enough people make it clear that dirty practices are unacceptable, the fashion industry will have no choice but to make changes. The future of ‘business as usual’ can be sustainable as well as beautiful.