The environmental price of fast fashion

Kirsi Niinimäki, Greg Peters, Helena Dahlbo, Patsy Perry, Timo Rissanen, Alison Gwilt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The fashion industry is the second largest industrial polluter after aviation, accounting for up to 10% of global pollution. Despite the widely publicized environmental impacts, however, the industry continues to grow, in part due to the rise of fast fashion, which relies on cheap manufacturing, frequent consumption and short-lived garment use. In this Review, we identify the environmental impacts at critical points in the textile and fashion value chain, from production to consumption, focusing on water use, chemical pollution, CO2 emissions and textile waste. Impacts from the fashion industry include over 92 million tonnes of waste produced per year and 1.5 trillion litres of water consumed. On the basis of these environmental impacts, we outline the need for fundamental changes in the fashion business model, including a deceleration of manufacturing and the introduction of sustainable practices throughout the supply chain, as well a shift in consumer behaviour — namely, decreasing clothing purchases and increasing garment lifetimes. These changes stress the need for an urgent transition back to ‘slow’ fashion, minimizing and mitigating the detrimental environmental impacts, so as to improve the long-term sustainability of the fashion supply chain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-200
Number of pages11
JournalNature Review; Earth and Environment
Volume1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2020
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

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