The newest Social Media trend since the pandemic is TikTok. Watching a TikToker showing all her Shein “Hauls”. In the next minute she is ripping all the plastic bags open and the next second she poses with her new favorite outfits. But only showing the outfits won’t get her many views or likes. This will be achieved when she says: “You won’t believe me how cheap these cute little tops are – It’s insane!”
The consumers on TikTok don’t know much about Fast-Fashion, let alone about ultra-fast fashion and its impact on the environment.
Fast-Fashion vs. Ultra-Fast Fashion
Ultra-Fast Fashion takes every bad attribute of fast fashion and speeds it up. In short, the faster production cycles and trends lead to negative impacts on workers and the environment. With the impact of ultra-fast fashion and their relatively low-price strategy, the disposable culture is now the norm. The younger generation buys in huge quantities and views their garnet as worn out only after a few washes.
The Environmental Impact
About 93 billion cubic meters of water is used in the garment industry which represents about 4% of all freshwater extraction globally. Not only does this amount might double by 2030, but it also contributes to water shortage in these production regions. 90% of these clothes are made with cotton or polyester. It is widely known, that cotton requires a large amount of water and pesticides to produce single garments – approximately about 2500 liters of water. Alongside the production, about 17 to 20% of the industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and the fabric finishing treatment. These chemicals are going back to the rivers and oceans contaminating them with toxins and heavy metals, not only infecting the animals but also the human food chain.
Approximately about 92 million tonnes of textile waste are created worldwide every year. And we are expecting that by 2030 about 134 million tonnes of textile might be discarded, even though 95% of these textiles could be reused and recycled. Just as said before, the disposable culture is now the norm. But what happens with our tossed aside garments? These are sent into landfills. In 2018 around 17 million tonnes of garments ended up in landfills. This amount takes up to 200 years to decompose. Even up to this day, 84% of clothes end up in landfills.
The fashion industry holds about 10% of the global carbon emission, which ranks in the second position right after oil. On average, the total carbon emission of the garment’s life, so from manufacturing to transportation and ultimately ending up in a landfill, is approximately 1.2 billion tonnes. With the current trends, the greenhouse gas emission in this industry will increase by more than 50% or higher by 2030.
But what can we do?
At first, the packaging of the newly bought clothing needs to be properly recycled and decomposed. Instead of using the washing machines which pollute the ocean with microfabrics, it is better to handwash these fabrics. When it’s time to throw out the pieces it is better to try these new approaches. If it’s possible, restyling the old clothing or reselling them is an economical better solution. When buying a new piece choosing the right fabric is essential, even though it might be more expensive. But in the end, it’s best if we don’t buy from ultra-fast-fashion brands.
How to spot a fast fashion respectively ultra-fast fashion brand?
Here are some common key factors to recognize these brands:
- Thousand different styles, that touch the newest trends and change every day
- Short turnaround time between catwalk/celebrity media and their online shop
- Offshore manufacture, with a poorly visible supply chain
- Cheap and low-quality fabrics like polyester
Clarke, R. (08 2021). Fast Fashion’s Carbon Footprint. Von The Carbon Literacy Trust: https://carbonliteracy.com/fast-fashions-carbon-footprint/ abgerufen
Common Objective. (23. 11 2021). The Issues: Water. Von Common Objective: http://www.commonobjective.co/article/the-issues-water abgerufen
Kant, R. (14. 01 2012). Textile dyeing industry an environmental hazard. Von Natural Science: https://www.scirp.org/journal/CTA.aspx?paperID=17027 abgerufen
Rauturier, S. (01. 04 2022). What Is Fast Fashion and Why Is It So Bad? Von good on you: https://goodonyou.eco/what-is-fast-fashion/ abgerufen
Shadel, J. (25. 02 2022). What is Ultra Fast Fashion? Investigating Why It’s Ultra Bad. Von good on you: https://goodonyou.eco/ultra-fast-fashion/ abgerufen
Smith, D. (15. 02 2021). Fast Fashion’s Environmental Impact: The True Price Of Trendiness. Von good on you: https://goodonyou.eco/fast-fashions-environmental-impact/ abgerufen
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. (24. 09 2020). Report maps manufacturing pollution in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Von United Nations Conference on Trade and Development: https://unctad.org/news/report-maps-manufacturing-pollution-in-sub-saharan-africa-and-south-asia abgerufen