Environmental impacts caused by fast fashion
by Zafirah Bahrin
Have you ever heard about fast fashion? Thrifting? Sustainable fashion? This phrase might seem familiar to you because this phrase has been going on for a while now. If you don’t know what fast fashion is, fast fashion is a term used to describe stylish, cheap clothing that changes design quickly to meet current trends and fast fashion is BAD as it makes us feel outdated and encourages us to buy more to keep up with trends.
Fast fashion has caused a huge impact on the environment. The fashion industry produces 2% – 8% of the global carbon emission making it the second largest polluter in the world and it will increase as the fashion industry grows. Fast fashion has caused water pollution. When the clothing is being produced, untreated toxic wastewater substances such as mercury, arsenic and others are being dumped into the rivers and lakes near the textiles factories where it is manufactured and there are nearly 20% of the untreated toxic wastewater contributed to the environment. These harmful substances will harm aquatic organisms and the health of millions of people. There is a huge water runoff due to the use of fertilizers for cotton as it takes around 3000 liters of water to produce one cotton shirt that causes the contamination to occur.
Other than that, plastic microfibers are polluting the water. There are about 700,000 microfibers that are released to the ocean just by washing the clothes and 35% of those microfibers are from synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester and more. To lower the price of the products, the producers will change the material of the clothes to a low quality that uses more polyester, and this polyester consists of plastic. Plastic releases more carbon emissions than cotton and it takes a long time to degrade plastic so when plastic breaks down, toxic substances are released into the ocean and will end up in the food chain through aquatic organism and the aquatic organisms will digest these microfibers and cause negative effects to human as the microfibers cannot be removed.
Lastly, the fashion industry releases lots of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere by producing, manufacturing and transportations. Synthetic fibers that are used in most of our clothes are usually made from fossil fuels that cause the production to use more energy than needed. The production of our clothes is usually produced in China or countries that use coal as a source of power that causes greenhouse gasses to increase.
There are other negative effects that impact the environment such as leaching of chemicals in the ocean, water consumption used in the fashion industry, rainforest destruction, soil degradation and many more. Therefore, people started to thrift and buy sustainable fashion to help reduce these negative effects on the environment.