Did you know?
Australian’s are the world’s second-largest consumers of fashion. On average, they consume 27kgs of new clothing and textiles every year.
“Global clothing production has doubled in the past 15 years, with garments on average being worn much less and discarded quicker than ever before.”
Australians collectively spend about $5 billion on fashion and three-fifths of that is trashed within a year
According to the United Nations, the fashion industry is responsible for 8 to 10 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
Plus-size brands make up just 6.7 per cent of the 16.5 billion dollar clothing industry in Australia but according to the ABS, about 67 per cent of Australian women are considered ‘overweight’. While being technically overweight doesn’t necessarily correlate to a person’s clothing size, we can still see that something doesn’t add up here.
On top of the ethical questions that come along with fast fashion, there is the environmental footprint it is leaving behind. The fashion industry accounts for 2% of global GDD but is also the second-largest polluter behind the Oil industry. Much of the pollution caused by the fashion industry, which grew by 9.7% between 2010 and 2015, has fast fashion to blame.
Globally we are now consuming 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year—400% more than we were consuming just two decades ago. Australia is one of the biggest contributors to fashion pollution, now only second to the US. We send 85% of the textiles we buy to landfill every year equalling up to about 27 Kilograms of new textiles per person per annum.
The fashion industry uses masses of freshwater and energy to produce goods, and the dwindling resource emits huge quantities of greenhouse gasses. Synthetic fibres, a favourite of fast fashion brands, are made from petroleum, meaning it can take up to a thousand years to biodegrade. A thousand years! Petroleum-based fibres like polyester, nylon and acrylic also release plastic microfibers into the water. A 2011 study noted a single synthetic garment can create upwards of 1900 microfibres from one machine cycle which is then consumed by sea life. This does not only affect marine life but also affects those of us who eat fish because we are ingesting the same fibres that the fish ingest.
As well as using an exorbitant amount of water, the fashion industry also pollutes it. In developing countries (where most of fast fashion is produced), 90% of textile wastewaters are dumped directly into rivers, untreated. Wastewater from textiles contains toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. This is harmful to wildlife, the millions on millions of people who live in the surrounding areas, and finally globally when contaminated waters reach the sea.