Brands are increasingly advertising with appealing sustainability promises. So, all good? Unfortunately, a double no. Firstly, the core of the catastrophe remains unchanged – the ruthless, linear production and disposable model of fast fashion industries. Secondly, in the shadow of Corona, the fast fashion industry mutated into the new phenomenon of "Ultra Fast Fashion," with 9,000 new designs per day instead of a weekly collection.
The glamorous sustainability promises of brands don't fix the broken system; they just greenwash it! And no one talks about it because we all hear too little.
35 percent of the microplastics entering the oceans come from the textile industry, both in production and washing. A washing machine generates up to 600,000 plastic fibers per wash, entering the sea and, in some cases, back into our bodies. We already consume 5g of plastic per week, the mass of a credit card.
Around 12 percent of textile fabrics remain as waste during production, and 40 percent of manufactured textiles either stay unsold in Europe or are not exported at all. A staggering waste before clothing can even be worn.
Recycling and circular economy are myths in fast fashion. The truth is, less than 1 percent of textiles are recycled from old stocks. Mixed synthetic fabrics are practically hazardous waste. Meanwhile, textile production continues to grow by 2.7 percent annually. In the end, recycling doesn't even cover the growth.
The environmental disasters of textile production only reveal half of the problems created by the fast-paced fashion industry with plastic textiles and ultra-fast fashion: Every second, a whole truckload of textiles is burned worldwide or ends up in open landfills.
More than 3,500 different chemicals are used in textile production. Many are environmentally and health-damaging, providing color and wrinkle resistance – but are often carcinogenic, damaging the liver, kidneys, or nervous system, not just for those wearing the textiles but even more for the people on-site in production.
In the EU, private textile consumption is the fourth-largest contributor to environmental pollution, with almost 85 percent of resulting environmental damages occurring outside the EU in production countries in Asia. Every T-shirt requires 2,700 liters of water, equivalent to what a person drinks in 2 ½ years!
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