How is fashion killing our planet? By: Calvin Pang
Updated: Sep 9
Cotton. Polyester. Silk. These materials and many more are what make up the clothes on our backs. One could almost say that clothes are essential to human society and life. However, if we stopped to think about what happens when producing our clothes, we might become a bit more hesitant when deciding to shop for more clothes that we don’t necessarily need.
Due to the excess demand for clothes, companies are trying to keep up by mass-producing clothes which significantly increases its environmental impact. To put into perspective how much waste is created from the fashion industry, presented below are many shocking facts.
92 million tons of textile waste is produced every year
The total global emissions made by the fashion industry will increase by 50% by the year 2030
On average, US consumers throw out over 80 pounds of clothes every year
An article of clothing averages at about seven to ten times being worn, showing a decrease of 35% over the past 15 years
Because of the under-wearing and failure to recycle clothes, around $500 billion is lost
The fashion industry alone is responsible for 20% of waste water around the world
For every one kilogram of cotton, a staggering 20,000 liters of water is required
10% of the microplastics in the ocean can be traced back to textile factories
2.6 million tons of returned clothes ended up in landfills in the US alone
Due to the new culture of fast fashion, twice the amount of clothes are being produced than in the year 2000
How to help
There are many ways any average person can help to decrease the amount of waste created by the fashion industry. For starters, one can simply increase the amount of times they wear a piece of clothing. By buying clothes based on quality over quantity, the clothes’ lifespan and customers’ satisfaction both last longer. Additionally, by going just a step further, simply by looking at what materials the clothes are made of and choosing eco-friendly material can make a difference. Materials such as organic cotton, linen, etc. have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than other common materials. Lastly, if there are clothes that one doesn’t like to wear anymore, instead of just throwing them out and putting more waste in landfills and the ocean, they can donate them to organizations that either distribute them out to those in need or sell them at lower prices.
All in all, the common trend of buying whatever clothes they want at the moment is essentially killing our planet. On top of this, by not disposing of these clothes properly, it adds to the already growing waste problem globally. Even the small action of looking at what materials the clothes are made of can have a huge impact.