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Fast fashion is an economic and sociological phenomenon that has reached epic proportions. What we cut in clothing costs is borne twice by the planet, and it is absolutely crucial that we change our norms and behaviors. We believe in empowering people with knowledge, so here is our list of the 10 most essential fast fashion statistics that will help you understand the detrimental impact of this industry on the environment.
1 – 2. Garment production has doubled – Garment lifespan has decreased
These two stats are the embodiment of fast fashion. Clothing sales doubled from 100 to 200 billion units a year, while the average number of times an item was worn decreased by 36% overall.
3. Fast fashion generated more CO2 than aviation and shipping combined
4. Every year more than $500 billion is lost due to the lack of recycling and utilization of clothing.
Garments that are abandoned early and thrown away rather than recycled combine to produce massive waste, estimated at around $500 billion each year. Much of it happens on the consumer side, but retail stores are equally to blame, often seen throwing away or burning unsold stock.
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5. Fashion habits around the world vary
The stats above gave a global snapshot of the situation, but fast fashion is more or less prominent depending on where you live.
6. 20% of global wastewater comes from textile dyeing
The fashion industry consumes a monstrous amount of water, around 93 billion cubic meters, leaving much of it polluted with toxic chemicals. According to the United Nations Environment Program, 20% of global wastewater comes from textile dyeing. Because most production is in countries with less regulation, wastewater often finds its way into rivers and seas where it can wreak havoc.
7. We dispose of 92 million tons of clothing-related waste each year
The next figure on our list of fast fashion stats might be hard to wrap your head around, so let’s rephrase it.
8. Produces half a million tons of microplastics
You have surely heard of the microplastic plague, now seemingly ubiquitous on Earth. They are found everywhere, from the top of Mount Everest to the very air we breathe. The oceans are rife with them, routinely ingested by fish, which are then eaten in turn as the plastic moves up the food chain.
Clothes are a big source of microplastics because many are now made of nylon or polyester, both of which are durable and cheap. Every wash and dry cycle, especially the last one, sheds microfilaments that move through our sewer systems and end up in waterways. We estimate that half a million tons of these pollutants reach the ocean each year.
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9. Returns for items purchased online exceed the amount of all goods purchased
As more and more online retailers, large and small, offer the option to return products easily and often for free, return rates, especially for fashion items, have skyrocketed, topping 30% of all products purchased.
10. It can easily help cut consumer emissions by more than half
It has been shown that by:
- skipping one in six wash loads,
- wash half loads at less than 30 degrees,
- and substituting every sixth use of the dryer for air drying,
We would cut consumer emissions by more than half.
It may seem like a complicated set of instructions, but the message is that little hacks or behavior changes here and there make a difference. big difference. You can be part of that.
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