Fast Fashion, Faster Garbage
Every day, millions of people receive packages filled with every item of clothing imaginable and walk out of stores, their arms loaded down with bags labeled by a simple logo. Throughout the process of shopping and buying clothes, one likely doesn’t stop to consider the environmental impact of their purchases, especially not what happens to the item of clothing after it’s been disposed of. Fast fashion companies such as Zara, Forever 21, and H&M are aptly named for their ability to replicate recent trends and designs, mass-producing them cheaply, and getting them to stores quickly.
However, the ramifications of fashion are enormous. The fashion industry contributes 10% of total global carbon emissions, equal to the amount produced by the European Union, and 85% of all textiles go into dumps per year. In the future, textile manufacturing emissions are projected to exponentially grow by 60% by 2030. The second largest consumer industry of water is fashion, with textile dyeing being the second-largest polluter of water. Just washing clothes releases 500,00 tons of microfibers into the ocean annually, the same amount as 50 billion plastic water bottles. The speed with which fast fashion companies function allows them to produce a great number of clothes within a short period of time, but this also means that a large number of emissions and waste are produced.
After clothes are disposed of, it can take synthetic fibers centuries to degrade, with 35% of all microplastics in the ocean coming from synthetic textiles. Considering around 80 billion new pieces of clothing are consumed per year around the world and the average American generates 82 pounds of textile waste a year, the amount of clothing in landfills and oceans around the world has risen exponentially to an enormous level.