Fast Fashion Facts: 11 Stats & Truths We Can’t Ignore Anymore

Giada Nizzoli

Fast Fashion Facts: 11 Stats & Truths We Can’t Ignore Anymore

It’s tempting to turn a blind eye in front of such flashy offers, but the planet can’t take it anymore! 

If you’re used to buying clothes without questioning how they were made, acknowledging these fast fashion facts can be the first step towards making an actual change.

What are the main problems with fast fashion?

The main problems with fast fashion are that this industry is environmentally unsustainable and hides a high cost behind its cheap labels:

  • Polluting materials and production practices
  • Sweatshops and child labour
  • Overconsumption leading to huge quantities of waste

But let’s put all this into context.

11 fiendish fast fashion facts that we must start facing

Landfill full of fast fashion clothes

From its environmental footprint to unethical fast fashion statistics, here’s why this industry is so problematic and downright terrifying.

1. Some fast fashion brands still employ child labour (Unicef)

Sadly, some of the garments that you purchased from popular high street chains might have been manufactured by children in developing countries.

2. 93% of brands aren’t paying garment workers a living wage (Fashion Checker)

Fast fashion keeps its workers in modern slavery conditions as they can’t afford basic necessities nor break free from this vicious cycle.

3. Cotton production accounts for 18% of pesticides and 25% of all insecticides used in the world (True Cost)

While labels mentioning a natural fabric might sound like good news, the traditionally grown cotton behind most fast fashion clothes is highly unsustainable.

4. The fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water (Smarter Business)...

Second only to fruit and veg farming, fast fashion consumes 1.5 trillion litres of water every year.

In fact, it takes 2,700 litres to make a single cotton t-shirt!

5. … and is responsible for 8-10% of all carbon emissions (UN)

Another appalling fast fashion fact is that it consumes more energy than the shipping and aviation industries combined.

Consumers with lots of fast fashion clothes

6. It requires 70 million barrels of oil to produce polyester every year (Green Queen)

Used in 63% of all our clothing, this synthetic fabric is incredibly polluting: not only is it derived from petroleum, but it can take 200 years to decompose in landfills.

7. Fast fashion is responsible for 20-35% of ocean microplastics (McKinsey)

Another problem with polyester and synthetic fabrics is that, every time you wash them, they’ll release between 700 and 4,000 plastic fibres per gram.

These end up in the ocean, fish bellies, and… yep, yours too, if you eat seafood.

8. Most ultra fast fashion brands score under 10% in transparency (Fashion Transparency Index)

With their shady supply chains, brands like Fashion Nova, Boohoo, and PrettyLittleThing have worsened the already tragic problems behind fast fashion.

9. Fast fashion clothing relies on planned obsolescence (Birdsong)

Unlike durable vintage or ethical clothes, these items are designed to fall apart so that consumers like you keep buying new garments regularly.

10. We buy 60% more clothes than in the year 2000 but wear over half of them for less than a year (Bitch Media / Fibre2Fashion)

One of the most shocking facts about fast fashion is the level of overconsumption that it’s led to.

Evey year, it churns out 100 billion items of clothing. That’s around 14 garments for every human being!

11. This results in 18.6 million tonnes of yearly clothing waste (Pebble)

Because we buy more clothes but wear them less (seven times on average), this unsustainable waste is one of the most unsettling fast fashion pollution facts.

What you can do after reading these fast fashion statistics

Some sustainable clothes to choose after learning these fast fashion facts

Have you decided that you no longer wish to support this industry but are not sure where to start?

Start with small steps, and be kind to yourself: now that you've learnt these fast fashion facts, here are our simple tips to ditch this mindset and model.

You’ve got this!

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