The demons of fast fashion and how we can curb it
Fast fashion is killing our planet, quite literally! Here's what you need to know about your shopping habits and how we can mitigate the risks before it's too late.
The world population grew by 20% from 2000 to 2019 but clothing production has more than doubled since. Brands are offering more choices and creating more collections per year than ever before with easy access to the latest trends. This cut-throat competition comes at a major environmental cost.
Here are some statistics to give you a new perspective about human consumer behavior and why it's so critical to change the way we buy. 10% of all carbon emissions are caused by the clothing industry which exceeds that of the airline and shipping industry combined. Our buying habits have increased by 65% since 2001 when it comes to clothing. Clothes are kept for half as long as they usually would in 2001. That makes 85% of all these textiles end up in landfills which is equivalent to one full garbage truck of clothes per second. Washing these clothes releases a staggering amount (equal to 50 billion plastic bottles) of microplastics into the ocean every year largely due to synthetic fibers used in clothing such as polyester. Polyester is now approximated to be used in 60% of clothing worldwide and emits 3X more carbon than cotton. However, cotton poses a water shortage challenge, take for example a cotton t-shirt which takes approximately 2,500 liters to make or a pair of jeans which consumes 7,500 liters in its production cycle. Dyeing processes worldwide contribute to 20% of the water pollution as we know it.
The answer to these problems is simple. As a civilisation we simply cannot justify this level of consumption. There is no need for the possession and sale of these many clothes. We must make a conscious decision to cut down on our buying habits and focus on need-based transactions. However, that may be a difficult move to implement but its an idea worth sharing.
What else we can do to improve the state of our environment specific to the clothing sector besides buying less? Buy into extremely sustainable and conscious brands like Patagonia. Donate used clothes to the ones who are in greater need and refrain from trashing them. Recycle clothing as far as possible and find another use for it. Partake voluntarily or monetarily to initiatives that will curb carbon emissions such as reforestation or conservation. Let sustainability not be the "IT" word of the new decade but lets practice. Everyday small changes are more impactful than one would imagine. Here's to a better decade.
Director, Kathiwada Brands
Trustee, Kathiwada Foundation