Fast Fashion & the Environment

Fast Fashion is a growing industry as producers are able to manufacture large amounts of clothing at lower costs, however fast fashion is taking its toll on the environment.  This industry is acknowledged to be “one of the major energy consuming industries” in the world and “retains a record of the lowest efficiency in energy utilization” (Energy Conservation in Textile Industries & Savings).  Additionally, fast fashion factories produce “10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions” and are considered “the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply” (The Fashion Industry Emits More Carbon than International Flights and Maritime Shipping Combined). The fast fashion industry secretes staggering amounts of carbon dioxide largely because of the creation of synthetic fibers.  Nylon, rayon and polyester, for example, use up tons of energy to produce as they are not naturally occuring fibers, consequently generating carbon dioxide. Desizing, prewashing, mercerizing, dyeing, and printing involves the use of numerous chemicals that pollute the air, water and fibers themselves.   According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the textile industry is the “5th largest contributor to CO2 emissions” and  “one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gasses on Earth” (Carbon Footprint of the Textile Industry).  Also, many fabrics must be bleached with chlorine before dyeing, leading to ”organochlorine compounds to be released [in the air], which are very dangerous to the environment” (Role of Carbon Footprint in Textile and Apparel Industry). In addition, “the chemicals used during the manufacture of these materials end up as toxins polluting the air, soil, and water” (Role of Carbon Footprint in Textile and Apparel Industry).   Not only is this causing further resource depletion, but it is contributing to the steady atmospheric temperature rise that is the main concern associated with global warming.

Furthermore, fast fashion “is the number one industrial polluter of water in the world” (Role of Carbon Footprint in Textile and Apparel Industry).  “It’s estimated that a single mill can use 200 tons of fresh water per ton of dyed fabric” (Fashion: The Thirsty Industry). Water is used to clean raw materials, dissolve and rinse chemicals for use, and is key in flushing steps to rid fibers of chemicals. New water is used for the different types of fibers and chemicals utilized in fast fashion factories to avoid contamination. Because of these highly inefficient processes, thousands of gallons of waste water are produced by the industry daily. Not only that, “85% of all textiles go to the dump each year, and washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean”  (The Fashion Industry Emits More Carbon than International Flights and Maritime Shipping Combined)The fast fashion industry is one of the top energy and water users in the world, while being the 5th top pollutant producer as well.  This is completely unacceptable.  Josh Gabbatiss, science consultant, explains that because of such careless production global warming has gotten much worse and that “near-record high temperatures will hit around the world” (World will approach record-breaking temperatures in 2019, says Met Office).  This “human driven climate change” is the result of ignorant fast fashion producers.  In addition to this, water is massively affected by the fast fashion industry. The website Drop4Drop tells that “dyeing and treatment of garments makes up roughly 17-20% of all industrial water pollution according to the World Bank;” this further proves the negative impacts the fast fashion industry has on our environment. Sustainability needs to become a common practice!  Spend smart, save the planet, shop sustainable.  


Drop4Drop. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from The Thirsty Industry. (2019, January 23). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from, M. (2019, October 21). The fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Here are the biggest ways it impacts the planet. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from

O Ecotextiles (and Two Sisters Ecotextiles). (2011, October 31). Carbon footprint of the textile  industry. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from

Textile and Apparel Industry News - Apparel Industry News India (TVC). (2020, September 23). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from

World will approach record-breaking temperatures in 2019, says Met Office. (2018, December 20). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from (n.d.). Energy Conservation, Textile Industries, Global Energy Crisis. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from