Most are aware of the dire need for change required to save our planet, and how scientists speculate that irreversible pollution will create a fatal outcome in just years. But what are day to day citizens supposed to do? How do we reverse this? Some try their hardest to make a difference in their daily life by recycling, or opting for a reusable alternative to single use plastics. However, in addition to these habits, we also need to focus on more major pollutants - the waste created by large corporations.
The world's second largest pollutant is the fashion industry
It’s estimated that the average American throws away about 81 lbs/37 kg of clothes every year, often ending up in landfills or burned. This rise of fashion pollution is growing exceptionally fast and only getting worse. Going shopping for clothing used to be something that happened a couple times a year when the seasons changed, or they were outgrown, however, looking at the past two decades, clothing became cheaper, and the lifetime of trends decreased. According to the World Resources Institute, “The average consumer is purchasing 60 percent more items of clothing compared to 2000, but each garment is kept half as long” as consumers are keeping this up, the consumption of “fast fashion” is projected to jump 63 percent by 2030.
What is fast fashion?
The Good Trade defines fast fashion as“A design, manufacturing, and marketing method focused on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing.”
Fast fashion allows the public more accessibility to runway fashion looks by quickly mass producing cheaply made replicas of these styles found on the catwalk. Because they are cheaply made, this gives the garment a short life span before it falls apart and gets thrown out. For example, popular brands that practice fast fashion are Zara, Shein, Forever 21, Gap, H&M, and many more. Shein in particular adds an average of 2,800 new styles to its website each week, according to Coresight.
A single cotton t-shirt requires 2,700 liters of water to produce, that's three years of water that the average person consumes.
Along with the incredible amount of textile waste the fashion industry creates, the production of these garments demands a tremendous amount of water. This has led to severe droughts in California, and made it difficult to provide clean water for cities such as Flint, MI.
With the substantial requirement of water for manufacturing each shirt, according to the World Resources Institute, this has totaled up to a whopping 20 percent of industrial water pollution. The world uses 1.3 trillion gallons (5 trillion liters) of water each year for fabric dyeing alone, enough to fill 2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
With the rise of accessibility to latest fashion trends, it's important to keep in mind how your purchase will age. Even if its made with more durable material, ask yourself - will it be out of style and worn next year at this time? or even three months from now?