The Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion

Although ‘fast fashion’ became a buzzword in the late-nineties, it’s something that’s really taken off over the last few years. But what exactly is it, and how does it impact the world around us?

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion is defined by Merriam Webster as ‘an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasises making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers’. 

Ultimately, it is cheap and trendy clothing that is ‘fast’ in every sense. It’s made quickly, it’s sold quickly, it’s usually delivered quickly and garments are usually discarded after a few wears.

Whilst it’s seemingly great for fashionistas trying to keep up with the latest trends, fast fashion is totally unsustainable. 

But why?

Its effect on the environment

The production of cheap clothing affects the environment on a large scale. Take a look at these statistics:

  • Whilst the average person purchases 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago, these garments are only kept half as long.
  • The global average consumption of textiles is 13kg per person. If you multiply that figure by the total population (7.8 billion), it equates to 101400000 tonnes of clothing!
  • Fast fashion is the world’s second largest polluter – second only to the oil industry.
  • The production of polyester emitted over 706 billion kg of greenhouse gases in 2015. This had the same environmental impact as 185 coal-fired power plants.

What can you do?

If you’re shocked by these statistics and don’t want to contribute towards this unsustainable trend, there are many ways you can do it. 

  • Avoid fast-fashion brands. Only buy from brands that are working towards becoming sustainable, such as H&MZara and Levi’s.
  • Buy less and buy better. Instead of buying three tops that are £10 each, buy one top worth £30 (that’s of higher quality) and wear it more often.
  • Do the 30 Wears Challenge. Before you purchase something, think to yourself, “will I wear this at least 30 times?”. If the answer is yes, buy it and enjoy it!
  • Donate your unwanted clothes. At Collect My Clothes Wales, we collect your unwanted items and ethically recycle them for free. They will typically be sent off to Africa or Eastern Europe, providing affordable clothing for those in need. What’s also great is that you’ll be raising money for charity in the process! Find out more about our clothing collection service now.