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  • 작성자 사진Lee Ga-eun

[Fashion] Fast Fashion Makes Fast Environmental Pollution

No. 155 / Dec 6, 2021

What do you know about fast fashion? As the weather gets colder, people’s interest in fast fashion increases. It refers to clothes that are quickly produced and distributed with immediately reflecting the latest trends. For example, Uniqlo and SPAO are representative fast fashion companies. In addition, fast fashion is quickly made and consumed like fast food. How fast the process is, if a general fashion brand releases new products about four times a year, a fast fashion brand can release new products in a day or a week. This fast fashion industry is gaining popularity among many customers.

However, the growth of the fast fashion industry is causing environmental pollution problems. First, there is the problem of clothing waste. According to data from the Ministry of Environment, the average daily waste of discarded clothes was approximately 162t in 2008, but nearly doubled to 259t in 2016. These discarded clothes are eventually dumped into landfills, where they might not rot for up to 2,000 years, causing problems with the soil environment. Second, much greenhouse gas is emitted during the clothing production process. According to Quantis, a global environmental impact assessment agency, as of 2016, greenhouse gas emitted by the clothing industry accounted for approximately 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emission. If so, it can be assumed that the greenhouse gas emission will increase further if the fast fashion industry continues to grow. Third, too much water is used to produce a piece of clothing. For example, 2,500L of water, an enormous amount of water that could be used to flush a toilet 200 times, used to make a T-shirt. Therefore, some people point out that the clothing industry is wasting excessive water at the present time when there is a water shortage country. Finally, fast fashion also has the problem of microplastics. Synthetic fibers made of plastic materials are used in 70% of modern clothing, and release microplastics during machine washings. International Union for Conservation of Nature also estimated that 35% of microplastic pollution occurs during the process of washing synthetic fiber products. Thus, fast fashion could eventually become a major cause of water pollution.

Then, how should we solve the problems of fast fashion? We should think about “Sustainable Fashion”. It refers to fashion that contains the process from production to disposal of products that does not exhaust existing resources for future generations. Currently, this term is called “Conscious Fashion”, and various fashion companies are urging the fashion industry to consider the environment in every aspect from fabric materials to distribution processes. For example, H&M declared that it would make all clothes eco-friendly by 2030 by recycling of used clothes and using sustainable materials. Similarly, ZARA has announced that it will use 100% sustainable fabric. As such, many fast fashion brands are making efforts to prevent environmental pollution. However, changes in consumer perceptions are also important. If we make a habit of reducing unnecessary clothing consumption and wearing a pair of clothes for a long time, the amount of clothing waste will decrease. In addition, making reuse and recycling a habit will help the environment. Both fast fashion brands and consumers should strive to prevent environmental problems caused by the clothing industry.


By Lee Ga-eun, AG Reporter

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