Fast-Fashion is Hurting Our Earth!

Fast-Fashion is Hurting Our Earth!

What is fast-fashion

Fast-fashion is a fashion process where retailers rely on mass production to generate cheap clothing at a rapid rate in response to the latest styles and trends. The low cost of garments tempts consumers into purchasing new clothes with each new trend. Meanwhile, their old, unwanted clothes contribute to environmental waste.

In other words, fast fashion refers to an inexpensive method administered in the textile industry that primarily focuses on making profits by introducing new clothing collections continuously. The fashion industry makes up ten percent of the carbon emissions. According to United Nations Environmental Programme, it is the second-largest consumer of water resources. In our research, we asked consumers how they perceive fast-fashion and disclosed to them how sustainability plays an important role in the fashion industry.

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Some key facts about the industry

The clothing industry is worth £1.34 trillion in annual global retail sales. Thus, it is approximately equivalent to the combined GDP of the poor countries. The yearly global retail sales will reach $1.4 trillion, which is $106 billion or a hike of 8.1% since 2016. The large carbon footprint of the industry is not much of a surprise.

The fashion industry emitted five times more carbon than an Aviation Company, and it is responsible for 10% of total carbon dioxide emissions. The clothing and textile industry is producing about 1.7 billion tons of carbon each year.

Eighty percent of the garments produced eventually end up in incinerators and landfill sites. A strategic model can help to internalize the negative externality caused by consumer psychology. The industry drives new collections onto sales floors almost every week. Only a quarter of a percent moves towards the recycling process. The remaining garments cause a huge environmental threat.

Slow fashion and it’s background

Slow fashion is the alternative to fast-fashion and promotes a slower and sustainable approach. It supports buying vintage or second-hand clothes, redesigning old clothes, shopping from smaller producers, and buying quality garments with a longer lifespan. Sustainable fashion produces smaller batches, designs zero-waste clothing items and focuses on reducing waste generated by the textile industries. Sustainable brands prefer organic fabrics such as pure cotton, linen, Tencel (man-made cellulose fiber), and other biodegradable materials.

Environmental effects caused by the fashion industry

As a known fact, supply creates its demand. The retailers bring more clothes with higher profit margins and thus engines a fashion hype. The runway fashion shows, the millennial aesthetic clothing trends, and the urge to stay fashionable with the latest trends pump more waste than recyclable. The increased demand reduces the shelf life of clothing items. Thus, these clothes are dumped into the environment, contributing to land waste.

garbage lot

For instance, when a particular design runs out of stock, instead of replenishing it, the retailers add newer designs, thus making the previous stock non-trendy. This vicious circle is built upon the cheap labor in sweatshops in poor, under-developed nations. Workers in these sweatshops are often exposed to toxic, carcinogenic chemicals, which also harm the environment when dumped in rivers, streams, lakes, etc. The textile industry emits more greenhouse gases than international shipping & aviation combined.

Ecofunomics has published a fashion article prior. It can serve some knowledge to your curious mind. Since knowledge is the new currency – click below to read the entire article.

fast fashion

Fashion Industry! Tricks or Treats?!

Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino do they rule your world? Not quite so? Well, it’s time to rethink your fashion quotient. With the world becoming a global village and creative minds growing wilder; the fashion world is gaining new heights and importance. The fashion industry is cross-pollinating trends and creating new fashion breeds. In this changing fashion trend, only those who are keeping up are considered fashionable. Confused? 

Possible remedies to help the environment

  • Choose organic fibers, bio-based synthetic polymers made up of renewable crops like corn and sugarcane release [up to 60% fewer carbon emissions, partly thanks to the crops creating carbon sinks]
  • Choose clothes made in countries with stricter environmental regulations for factories, powered by more renewable energy.
  • Select natural or semi-synthetic fibers.
  • Choose natural or semi-synthetic fibers.
  • Buy less with buy better quality, mend clothes, and recycle. It will allow us to keep our clothes longer, which is good for our wallets as well as for the environment.

Brief history of fashion quotient (1960s-2000s)

Let us quickly take a look at how fashion evolved over the decades. The 1960s were breaking fashion norms and traditions. The ’60s brought in vogue drainpipe jeans and Capri pants worn by Audrey Hepburn. The years were also famous for their experimental fashions like mini skirts, go-go boots. Mary Quant popularised mini skirts and hot pants. Psychedelic prints, neon colors were in vogue.

anonymous woman covering face with magazine

The 1970s fashion was booming in the disco era. VOGUE claimed this decade as ‘the no rules in the fashion game’. The 70s included a wide range of crop tops, long bell sleeves, tunic shirts, and low-rise pants. Whereas for men it was mostly about the tie and die shirts, bell-bottom jeans, corduroy pants, on one hand, classic suits, and on the other hand. Forbes reported a rise of 4.4 % in suit sales during the era. This decade also witnessed a wide range of unisex hippie accessories including headbands, floppy hats, chokers, flowing scarves.

The 80’s trend was all about fabric colors, polo shirts, turtlenecks, ripped denim, statement suits, etc. In addition to the above, accessories like plastic bangles jazzy earrings pearls were on-trend. The hype was about shoes like color block sneakers, Adidas campus, and heeled pumps. Significantly, sunglasses were a staple to stay in vogue Coca-cola collaborated with a famous clothing company “Jordache” promoting branded clots.

How can we tackle the Fast fashion problem?

Though fast fashion has a minor impact on our wallets, it can have a massively destructive impact on the world environment. Therefore, to minimize the negative impact on biodiversity, small changes can be helpful.

  • Minimize demand– If people are made aware of the harmful effects of fast-fashion, society will demand less. A downward shift in aggregate demand will eventually curb the supply. 
  • 3 ‘R’s – Refuse, reuse and recycle fast-fashion clothing items can tackle the problem from the root. 
  • Taxes and Subsidies– Fast-fashion creates a negative externality. Taxes on the production of synthetic fibers and other non-biodegradable materials will lower the production of harmful fabrics and textiles. Simultaneously, a subsidy on organic and biodegradable materials will increase the demand and supply. Thus, a price subsidy will benefit the environment and society.
  • Quantity restrictions – Government can also impose a quantitative restriction on the production of synthetic fibers. Thus, restricting the harmful impacts of our purchasing actions.

Thus, a conscious decision by a rational consumer can make the world a better place. In other words, we can stay fashionable without hurting planet earth.


This article was compiled and edited by Ms. Kritika Kumari, an intern at Ecofunomics.
The article was written by:
Aayush Srivastava (B.Com)
Ananya Das (B.Sc.)
Anchal Tiwari (B.Sc.)
Ankita (MBA)
Ayushi Basu Mallick (B.Sc.)
Md Khalid Saifullah (MBA)
Monisha Somani (MA)
Sagar Kumar Das (B.Com)
Sanchali Gorai (B.Com)
Sanskriti Burnwal (B.Sc.)
Soham Sen (MBA)
Sneha Banerjee (B.Sc)
Vinie Shrivastava (MA, B.Ed.)

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Eco-Fun-Omics was established on February 16th, 2018. Eco-Fun-Omics is an educational and research company serving knowledge across 74 countries. We publish knowledgeable reads, and academic articles, papers in easy and simple words with relatable examples and research questions. On 5th August 2021, we were incorporated under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (Government of India) as Ecofunomics LLP. We are also recognized under the Ministry of Higher Education (Government of India).

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