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The Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion

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Fast fashion is everywhere we see. Fashion stores are selling less-sustainable, lower-quality clothing to meet the increased demand for constantly evolving fashion trends.

However, on your trips to the mall shopping for the latest accessories, you might forget the environmental impact of fast fashion.

As modern, sexy, and trendy as these clothing and accessories are, they cause significant damage to the environment.

According to the UN Environmental Impact Program, the fast fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for the second-largest water consumption.

Here’s how fast fashion degrades the environment:

Excessive Water Consumption

Water is a scarce natural resource. This industry, however, uses one-tenth of global water to make and clean products in its factories.

To understand better, consider this: it takes 10,000 liters of water to produce one kg of cotton. Producing one cotton shirt requires around 3,000 liters of water.

Not to mention that a lot of these factories are located in countries with few environmental regulations. They dump chemically-treated water from the dyeing process into oceans and rivers.

shoes, a wallet, sunglasses

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Image-Alt: shoes, a wallet, sunglasses


Most of the clothes created by fast fashion brands use synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester. Thirty-five of these synthetic fibers eventually make their way to the oceans, primarily using our washing machines. Additionally, these cannot be removed from the oceans and impact our food chain through seafood consumption.

Excessive Energy Use

Manufacturing synthetic plastic fibers use energy-intensive processes that use large quantities of petroleum and release harmful materials and acids into the environment. Other than that, fast fashion brands also use a lot of cotton, which uses tons of water and pesticides to grow.

Over-Consumption of Clothing and Accessories

Additionally, fast fashion encourages overspending and shopping. The current fashion trends have created the need to buy more products while discarding the older ones. Fifty-seven percent of the discarded clothing goes to landfills and piles up.

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