Later City news
  • Catalina M.

Fast Fashion or Slow Fashion? The Environmental Cost of Fast Fashion

Heavy use of agrochemicals can cause nausea, diarrhoea, cancers and respiratory diseases, and acute pesticide poisoning is responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths a day and afflicts neurological and reproductive problems, such as infertility, miscarriage and birth defects.

Later City News: The fashion industry is facing increasing global scrutiny of its environmentally polluting supply chain operations. Despite the widely publicized environmental impacts, however, the industry continues to grow, in part due to the rise of fast fashion, which relies on cheap manufacturing, frequent consumption and short-lived garment use.

In a research recently published by journal of Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, Kirsi Niinimäki and his research team from Scandinavian and American universities shows that Impacts from the fashion industry include over 92 million tonnes of waste produced per year and 79 trillion litres of water consumed. On the basis of these environmental impacts, the research outlines the need for fundamental changes in the fashion business model, including a deceleration of manufacturing and the introduction of sustainable practices throughout the supply chain, as well a shift in consumer behaviour — namely, decreasing clothing purchases and increasing garment lifetimes.

These changes stress the need for an urgent transition back to ‘slow’ fashion, minimizing and mitigating the detrimental environmental impacts, so as to improve the long-term sustainability of the fashion supply chain.

Carbon footprint

Textiles, alongside aluminium, generate the most greenhouse gases per unit of material. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims that the textile industry causes 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but the scope and method of this estimate are unclear.