Our Fashion Footprint: The real price tag of fast fashion

What we wear is how we express ourselves, we often open our closets full of clothes and think, “I have nothing to wear. Nothing that’s me, today. Nothing that tells the world how I feel. Nothing that will make me feel good about myself.” So we go out and get even more clothes, and—because we know that next month or next week or even tomorrow we will want different things—we buy the cheapest option. We don’t think about how it can be this cheap. It never crosses our minds that these pieces that bring us momentary happiness are the byproduct of fast fashion which (despite having very much helped democratize fashion, or, in other words, make trends accessible to everyone) is slowly but surely depleting the Earth of its most important resources. The fast fashion industry produces cheap, trendy pieces(that we all want to buy) using heaps of synthetic materials(which, while being comfortable and affordable, are also mainly made of plastic), a vast amount of chemicals, and tons of water to produce pieces which are essentially made to be thrown away. Here is a summary in numbers of our fashion footprint according to the United Nations Environment Programme or, in other words, the real price tag on our trendy clothes.

  • 2 is the rank of the fashion industry in terms of pollution.
  • 10 is the percentage of global carbon emissions the fashion industry is responsible for, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
  • 500,000 is the number of metric tons of plastic microfibers the laundering of synthetic materials releases into oceans every year.
  • 60 is the percentage of plastic-based materials used in clothes.
  • 3,000,000 is the number of oil barrels in microfiber produced by the laundering of synthetic materials each year, which is mostly dumped into the ocean.
  • 100,000 is the number of marine animals killed each year by plastic waste, including microfibers.
  • 20 is the percentage of global wastewater that the fashion industry produces.
  • 2,000 is the number of water gallons used to make a typical pair of jeans.
  • 5,000,000 is the number of people whose water needs the fashion industry uses each year, ranking as the second-biggest consumer of water in the world, coming in just after agriculture.
  • 1 garbage truck is how much textiles are landfilled EVERY SECOND.
  • 60 is the percentage of extra clothes an average person is buying in comparison to 15 years ago, and, what’s more, it’s only kept half as long.