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Fast fashion is the mass production of cheap, low quality, disposable clothing. Each year the fashion industry produces 80 billion garments.

According to clothes waste charity TRAID, the average garment is only worn ten times before it is thrown away.

The impacts of fast fashion

  • An estimated 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions is caused by fast fashion.
  • The use of cheap textile dyes.
  • Pollution of clean water sources needed to dilute chemicals used in production.
  • Quality of textiles – they are so cheap that consumers feel it’s easier to throw away unworn garments than return them.
  • Pollution of the seas by clothing made from synthetic fabrics that contain microplastics.
  • Almost 350,000 tonnes worth of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.
  • Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make polyester for clothes production.

And aside from the environmental impact, there are ethical implications to fast fashion. Employees producing garments often work in poor conditions and receive minimum or in some cases below minimum wage, causing the cost of production to fall.

What you can do

  • Be aware of the environmental damage and make an informed choice.
  • Add up the real cost of garments that may not survive the first wash.
  • Think about buying quality items and repairing them as needed.
  • Donate unwanted clothes to charity shops so they can be reused.
  • Dispose responsibly and use textile recycling providers such as TRAID.
  • Look for brands that use sustainable fibres or recycled fibres.
  • Get in the habit of checking through local charity shops or swishing events.
  • Think about renting an outfit that you might only wear once for a big occasion.
  • Try online sites to sell or buy second-hand clothing.