Negative effects of fashion industry
When buying a new piece of clothing it's not often we think about where it came from, who made it or even what impact it could have made on the environment. The fashion industry profits off of consumers need for "newness". From following the latest trends and often buying an outfit and wearing it once for an event or social media posts. This results in 50% of our closet going unworn and the average piece of clothing is only worn 7 times before being thrown out. The world consumes 80 billion clothing items a year, 400% more than 20 years ago. Because of this, fast fashion or the cheap rapid design, production and distribution of fashion has blown up. This effects two major things, people and the planet.
One of the most fascinating stats I've come across is that 1 in 6 people work in the fashion industry making it the most labour-dependent industry. More than 60% of fast fashion is produced in developing countries where workers are forced to work 16 hour days with only 2% earning a living wage, the minimum amount needed to survive. Chemicals are also one of the main components in our clothes involved in bleaching, dyeing and producing our clothes which is causing diseases and premature death among cotton farmers.
The fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water. It uses 93 billion cubic metres of water a year, enough to meet the needs of five million people. To put things into perspective, it takes about 700 gallons to produce one cotton shirt and 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans and 200 tons of water per ton of dyed fabric. In most countries where clothing is produced, toxic wastewater from factories are dumped directly into rivers containing substances like mercury and lead that are harmful to people and aquatic life contributing to around 20% of wastewater pollution.
Every year, 85% of all textiles go to landfill - the equivalent of one garbage truck load every second. Lastly, the fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
The impact of fashion rental
The above statistics shine a light on the harsh reality of the fashion industry and the need for change. Although there is hope! Younger generations are increasingly placing an importance on sustainability including thrifting and supporting ethical brands. With fashion rental, you choose to consume garments that are already in our own homes vs. buying new. Each time a garment is rented you reduce your water consumption by 24%, energy usage by 6% & CO2 emissions by 3%.
However, fashion rental alone is not enough. People, government and companies need to come together to drive change.