Why is Fast Fashion So Bad?

First of all, what IS "fast-fashion?"

Fashion retailers use the term to refer to clothing designs inspired by (copying) trends showcased at the bi-annual Fashion Week events. To keep up with the demand for quick turn-around, retailers manufacture inexpensive, low-quality items that can quickly populate stores with items seen on the Catwalk.

As Greenpeace's Fast Fashion Detox Campaign has illustrated, clothing production requires copious amounts of fresh water while polluting water ways with toxic chemicals in the process. Today, the fashion industry is the second largest user of water globally. 

Producing one cotton shirt requires 2,700 liters of water—the amount a person drinks in 2.5 years. 

Textile production generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. 

 Photo by  Andrej Lišakov . 

Photo by Andrej Lišakov

Remember that one time in 2014, when a river in Wenzhou, China mysteriously turned blood red overnight? Water samples indicated illegal dumping. Unsurprisingly, a clothing manufacturer resides just up the river. It's scary to ponder how much artificial dye it takes to turn a river, normally clean enough to for fishing, completely red. And, sadly, it wasn't the first time.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe says the unprecedented increase in clothing manufacturing and the toxic manufacturing process is causing "an environmental and societal emergency." 

Although the UN isn't generally concerned with fashion, its impact on the environment and society have become so detrimental, it is actually impeding the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN addressed the issue this past March, at an event in Geneva named "Fashion and the Sustainable Development Goals: What role for the UN?"  

The UN's Goals highlight: "the consumer's right to be informed so as to be better aware of sustainable development issues—an area almost untouched by the fashion industry." 

Greenpeace notes that the exact figures on global clothing waste are not officially compiled, indicating a limited interest by policy makers and lack of transparency from the fashion industry regarding its use of resources and amounts wasted.

85% of textiles are sent to landfills—that's 21 billion tons per year. 

Well, now that you know. Help spread the word. 

Tiffany Duke