Fast Fashion's Environmental Impact: Big Fashion vs Planet Earth

Are you aware of the impact the fashion industry has on our environment? You might want to take a seat for this one because the numbers are quite alarming. The fashion industry is responsible for producing anywhere between 4 and 8.6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That's a larger carbon footprint than the aviation industry. To drive that point home, that carbon footprint is greater than that of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom's combined! And that's not all. Fashion production also pollutes water, destroys forests, abuses toxic chemicals, clogs landfills, and exploits workers.

But where there is a problem, there are always those working towards a solution. New York lawmakers and environmental advocates are working towards tidying things up. They are pushing for the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act (Fashion Act) to pass. The act aims to create legally binding environmental and labor standards for the industry to clean up its act. The Act on Fashion Coalition, a group of clothing and apparel companies, labor rights organizations, environmental justice organizations, and other nonprofits, supports the bill, which goes beyond anything done by the European Union.

So, how did we get here? It all started in the 1990s with the rise of fast fashion. Companies saw profit in churning out clothes quickly and cheaply to keep up with changing trends, and between 2000 and 2014, apparel companies worldwide doubled their production. The average consumer bought 60 percent more clothing in 2014 than they did in 2000—and kept each item for half as long. Crazy, right? Organic cotton and naturally derived fabrics last much longer than typical synthetics, which means a much better ROGI, return on garment investment. (Yes, we just officially coined that term)

But, there is hope. Despite the pull of fast fashion, younger generations are shifting away from destructive consumption patterns. In fact, Forbes found that 62 percent of Generation Z prefer buying from sustainable brands. We can all do our part by choosing to shop from sustainable health focused brands. 

Let's work together to make the fashion industry a cleaner, greener, and more ethical place. And remember, any one company can't do it on its own. We need to promote synergy, inclusiveness, and community between sustainable apparel companies and consumers. Let's support the Fashion Act and create a more sustainable and healthy future for fashion, ourselves and future generations.