The environmental cost of fast fashion
80 billion items of clothing are consumed globally every year, but only 10% reach charity shops or are recycled, according to the documentary The True Cost. These numbers put into perspective the unsustainable consumption of clothing, and environmentalists have criticised the fast fashion industry for its ability to rapidly deliver new fashion collections for the high street. With this speed comes a cost to the planet and a reduced cost to the consumer, meaning we can change our entire wardrobe every week if we want to. The result? We are consuming large quantities of natural resources while polluting the environment, particularly our water sources.
Pollution of precious water
Our thirst for new fashion is particularly harmful to clean water due to toxic chemicals and textile waste. Toxic chemicals are required to make vibrant colours and prints that catch the buyer’s eye, but these toxins leach into the environment either as factory waste or as consumer waste.
However, it's not solely these chemicals that pollute the environment - the materials and textiles used do as well. Polyester is a popular fabric thanks to its durable and pliable nature; however, this is what makes it such a harmful pollutant. When we wash polyester, it sheds microfibres which are consequently washed into the environment with waste water. These microfibres persist for over 200 years, and at the moment we aren't aware of the consequences long term.
Switch to eco-friendly alternatives today
Many people have a lot of clothes, so why would you need to buy any more? In order for retailers to entice you into their shops, they need to make it worth your while; hence, their rapid turnover of stock and the incredibly low cost of their products.
The good news is that there are a vast range of eco-friendly alternatives available which are made from resources such as hemp fibre and bamboo. Clothes made by eco-friendly companies may cost you slightly more upfront, but they are durable, so they'll last much longer than your typical cheap T-shirt. What are you waiting for? Make the switch to eco-friendly alternatives today!