The purpose of this article is to discuss 4 major negative impacts of “Fast Fashion” on our environment and ways of resolving these issues.

Fast Fashion refers to a large sector of Fashion Industry where apparels are manufactured at a high rate and are pumped quickly through various retail stores in order to meet latest fashion trends. Fast fashion is indispensable for customers but it comes with a cost. It has fulfilled the requirements of customers but at the same time has impacted our environment in a negative manner.

4 Negative Impacts of Fast Fashion on Environment

  1. Textile waste –

After plastic and paper, textile is the third largest source of waste. According to the data released by The Indian Textile Journal, over 1 million tonnes of textiles are discarded annually. Scarps, damaged or defective garments, left over fabric from cutting process are major contributors to textile waste.

2. Carbon Emissions-

According to “The Guardian”, fashion industry is the second largest industrial polluter, just behind oil. Textiles account for 10% of the world’s total carbon emissions. By 2030, the carbon footprint of the fashion business will have increased by 50% at this rate. Furthermore, the textile industry emits more greenhouse gases every year than  international flights and maritime shipping combined. Most of it comes from fabric production processes and then transportation of finished products like garments.

It is a widely known fact that,Cotton, one of the most popular, comfortable and breathable fabrics, uses petrochemical-based pesticides which come from petroleum, a major fossil fuel. Around 60% of synthetic fibres that make up our clothes use fossil fuels as well.

Many fashion brands incinerate their clothing products that do not sell well. This helps brands to maintain its exclusivity. But burning garments produces large emissions and pollutants that not only harm environment but also affect human health negatively.

3. Water Pollution-

Between dyeing and treating fabric, the fast fashion industry is responsible for around 20% of total global wastewater. According to the data published by United Nations Environment program (UNEP), just one pair of jeans requires 3781 litres of water.

Wastewater is problematic when you consider that about 8000 different types of synthetic chemicals are required in processing and dyeing of textiles. Millions of gallons of contaminated water in turn pollute bigger water bodies.

It is also estimated that washing synthetic garments release 0.5 million tons of microplastic into the oceans each year. These microplastics end up entering our food chain through oceans.

4. Health Hazards –

The various chemicals used in textile processing has huge impact on human health. The dust and lint produced during processing cotton fibres leads to respiratory diseases among workers.

Studies indicate that chemicals like Formaldehyde (used in Flame Retardant finish) elevate risk of endocrine disruption and cancer.

How to Resolve these issues?

As the awareness towards negative impacts of Fast Fashion is increasing, more brands are slowing down their production practices. They have started using recycled or renewable materials. They have started moving towards Slow Fashion Revolution.

We must transition to a circular economy today. Circular economy promotes repair, reuse and regeneration of products or materials instead of manufacture-use-dispose economy.

Customers can help in saving environment by opting for sustainable clothing. Instead of buying cheap synthetic garments they should choose biodegradable fabrics like cotton, linen, bamboo. They should buy less but buy better.

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