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Slow fashion is the future as Fast fashion is costing the Earth ! Says Scientists

Fashion industry is second largest polluter after aviation, according to study

Fast fashion is costing us the Earth and we must change the way we shop and dress to save the planet, experts have warned.


Research by scientists from the UK, Scandinavia, the US and Australia has revealed that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter after aviation, accounting for up to 10 per cent of global pollution.

Dr Patsy Perry, of Manchester University, said: “We highlight the need for urgent and fundamental changes in the fashion business model to minimise and mitigate the detrimental environmental impacts.”

Second largest polluter

Researchers said cheap mass manufacturing, frequent consumption and short-lived garment use means each year the industry produces 92 million tonnes of waste either burnt or in landfill, consumes 1.5 trillion litres of water, produces 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 and creates 190,000 tonnes of microplastic pollution in our oceans.

Demand for new clothes has seen global consumption rise to an estimated 62 million tonnes of textile products per year, projected to reach 102 million tonnes by 2030.

The report revealed the average consumer in the USA now purchases one item of clothing every 5.5 days.

In Europe, shoppers in Italy buy 14.5kg of new clothes a year, 16.7kg in Germany, 26.7kg in the UK and between 13 and 16 kg of textiles across Scandinavia.

Demand for new clothes

This constant consumption creates environmental problems at every stage of a garment’s life.

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Much of the textile production and manufacture of the garments is carried out in developing nations, whereas design and consumption tends to be focused in developed countries.

According to the report: “The globalisation of the textile and fashion system has resulted in an uneven distribution of these environmental consequences, with developing countries (who largely produce the textile and clothing) bearing the burden for developed countries.”

Short garment lifetimes and increased consumption means globally textiles account for up to 22% of mixed waste worldwide.

Burden of environmental consequences fall on developing nations, where much of the textile production and garment manufacture takes place, say researchers (Photo: Getty)

Short garment lifetimes

To end this negative cost to the environment, scientists recommend an industry and consumer move away from fast to slow fashion.

“A transition away from fast fashion towards slow fashion requires a slowdown in manufacturingvolumes, the introduction of sustainable practices throughout the supply chain and a shift inconsumer behaviour to reduce the amount of new clothing being purchased and increase garmentlifetimes”, said Dr Perry, “Such systemic changes could improve the long-term sustainability of the fashion supply chain.”

Kirsi Niinimäki, co-author of the paper and Associate Professor at Aalto University, Finland, said “slow fashion is the future” but will need “creativity and collaboration between designers and manufacturers, various stakeholders, and end consumers.”