EcoFootprint Romania Project

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Blog Post #2

The impact fast fashion has on our environment

What is fast fashion?


Fast fashion describes a design, manufacturing and marketing method that is focused on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing. To bring bargains to the end consumer, it combines trend replication with low-quality materials. This has resulted in an industry-wide movement towards overwhelming amounts of consumption which has negative impacts not only on the environment, but also on workers, animals and ultimately our wallets.


How bad is Fast Fashion really?


Ever since clothing is made in a rushed manner and brands started selling severely low-quality merchandise, there isn’t enough time left for quality control. But what does that mean? I’m pretty sure that most of you have at least once bought a piece of clothing, worn it twice and then had to throw it away because it ripped, the colour was fading, or it shrunk in the washer. So, the lack of quality control means that clothes aren’t sustainable anymore – often, you can’t wear them for more than one season.


The Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a partner of the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), estimated that every single second an entire truckload of abandoned textiles is dumped in landfills or incinerated – shocking, right? But again, the question comes to mind – what does this lead to? Well, the plastic fibres in clothing pollute the ocean, the amount of water that is wasted is unbelievable (did you know that it takes an incredible amount of 8000 litres to produce a single pair of jeans?) and not to mention the toxic dyes or the exploitation of underpaid workers. And the list goes on… here are some numbers:


  • second-biggest consumer of water (the production of a single pair of jeans takes up an astounding amount of 8000 litres of water!)
  • responsible for 10% of total global carbon emissions (that is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined, or equal to the emissions of the entire European Union)
  • 85% of all textiles go to dumps each clear
  • washing clothes releases 500000 tons of microfibres into the ocean each year (equivalent to 50 BILLION plastic bottles)


So, I think we have established that Fast Fashion truly has a harmful impact on our environment.


What can we do?


Reducing the fashion industry’s carbon footprint is key to limiting global warming. So, let’s talk more about what we personally can do and focus less on what should change in the industry.


A starting point if you don’t want to move away from brands like Zara and H&M would be buying their “eco collections” which use organic and recycled materials – for instance H&M Conscious or Zara Join Life. But sadly, this doesn’t really solve the problem of overconsumption – it rather is a form of greenwashing.


If you want to have a greater impact, you could opt for second-hand clothing – or at least second-hand jewellery, sunglasses, or bags. If you don’t want to renounce online shopping, you could try eBay or Facebook Marketplace.


Another option would be renting your clothes. If you need a suit for a special event – but only for that single special event – instead of buying one, just rent one!


The last option I would like to mention is simply buying less clothes, which is also the most effective solution. Buying a maximum of 8 new items a year could reduce fashion’s emissions by an astounding 37% in the world’s major city – according to the Leeds University and Arup.


So, to come to an end, I think we can all agree that Fast Fashion is something that shouldn’t be supported in any way, shape or form – so let’s try to avoid it at all costs.


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