32 fast fashion facts that you need to know.
Statistics play a powerful role in inspiring people to question their thoughts and behaviour, especially when it comes to ethical and environmental causes. If you want proof, look no further than Ethical Made Easy—if we didn’t watch The True Cost documentary we probably wouldn’t have been inspired to start Ethical Made Easy all those years ago. The fast fashion facts that feature in The True Cost rocked us to our core and motivated us to start learning about ethical fashion—and voila, Ethical Made Easy was born!
That’s why we’ve rounded up 32 of the most important fast fashion facts to inspire you to learn more about the fashion industry, become an ethical fashion activist, and maybe even change your shopping habits for good!
In case you need a bit of a recap, here’s how we define fast fashion:
Fast fashion is clothing and accessories that are made in high volumes at an incredibly fast rate to be sold with low profit margins.
It’s basically the fast food version of the fashion industry. And what do we know about fast food? It can’t sustain us for very long (remember Super Size Me?).
Fast fashion is far from sustainable and relies on poor ethics and the exploitation of people, animals and the environment. The following facts will paint a picture of just how unsustainable and unethical the industry really is. Hold onto your ethically-made hat because this may come as a bit of a shock to the system.
01. “10% of global carbon emissions come from the fashion industry, which is more than shipping and aviation combined” – Ellen Macarthur Foundation
02. “More than 90% of workers in the global garment industry have no possibility of negotiating their wages and conditions.” – IndustriALL
03. “Among 71 leading retailers in the UK, 77% believe there is a likelihood of modern slavery (forced labour) occurring at some stage in their supply chains.” –ethicaltrade.org
04. “Increasing the price of a garment in the shop by 1% could be enough to pay the workers who made it a living wage.” – Oxfam
05. “Fast fashion brands like Fashion Nova, Boohoo, Revolve, Pretty Little Thing and Forever 21 all score less than 10% on the Fashion Transparency Index” – Fashion Transparency Index
06. “Australia dumps 6000kg of clothing in landfill every 10 minutes.” – War on Waste
07. “It would take 12 years for H&M to use up 1,000 tons of fashion waste—the amount of clothing they produce in about 48 hours.” – Lucy Siegle
08. “Only 0.7% of H&M’s clothes are actually made from recycled or other sustainably-sourced materials.” – H&M
09. “It takes 2700L of water and over 120 days to grow enough cotton to make a T-shirt” – WWF
10. “68% of fast fashion brands don’t maintain gender equality at production facilities” – Ethical Fashion Guide
11. “Three out of five fast fashion items end up in a landfill” – Clean Clothes Campaign
12. “Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fibre, which is now the most commonly used fibre in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose.” – Forbes.
13. “Fashion accounts for 20 to 35 percent of microplastic flows into the ocean.” – The State of Fashion, McKinsey.
14. “Fast fashion companies design clothes that fall apart quickly. They pursue a strategy called ‘Planned obsolescence’. This means to design garments to become unfashionable, wear out, lose shape or fall to pieces easily to force consumers to keep buying new clothes.” – Be Global Fashion Network.
15. “In Australia, where the demand for textiles is one of the highest per capita in the world, the fast fashion sector grew by 19.5 percent over five years to $AUS1.8 billion ($US1.4 billion) in 2017-18” – SBS.
16. “On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. There were five garment factories in Rana Plaza all manufacturing fast fashion for big global brands” – Fashion Revolution.
17. “Fast fashion garments, which we wear less than 5 times and keep for 35 days, produce over 400% more carbon emissions per item per year than garments worn 50 times and kept for a full year” – Forbes.
18. “Less than of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing, representing a loss of more than USD 100 billion worth of materials each year.” – Ellen MaCarthur Foundation.
19. “Fast fashion is on track to grow to a $1.65 trillion industry by 2020” – Marketline.
20. “Just 4% of the money Australians spend on their clothing actually goes towards the wages of garment factory workers. ” – Oxfam.
21. “The world’s population is consuming 400% more clothing than it was at the start of the millennium” – The True Cost.
22. “Cotton production is responsible for 18% of the world’s pesticide use and 25% of its insecticide use, and the amount of resources used to raise cattle for leather production is dramatically impacting the health of our planet.” – The True Cost.
23. “The production of fast fashion is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater.” – UNEP.
24. “97% of fast fashion garments are produced overseas (in the US)” – American Apparel & Footwear.
25. “80% of garment workers are women. Gender discrimination runs deep throughout all of the countries in which garments are currently produced. Women are frequently subjected to verbal and physical abuse and sexual harassment.” – Clean Clothes Campaign.
26. “If the industry doesn’t change the apparel industry’s climate impact is expected to increase 49% by 2030.” – Quantis.
27. “Polyester production emitted about 706 billion kg (1.5 trillion pounds) of greenhouse gases in 2015 equivalent of the annual emissions of 185 coal-fired power plants.” – World Resources Institute.
28. “Over 50% of workers within the fashion industry are not paid the minimum wage in countries like India and the Philippines.” – Global Fashion Agenda.
29. “In Pakistan’s garment sector, 87% of women are paid less than the minimum wage.” – Global Fashion Agenda.
30. “In Australia, some garment outworkers earn as little as $7 an hour and, in some cases, as little as $4 well which is below the minimum wage of $17.49 per hour.” – Choice.
31. “41% of Australian have thrown unwanted clothes straight in the bin.” – YouGov.
32. “Half of the women in workers in garment factories in Southeast Asia has experienced sexual assault.” – Fashion Revolution.
How are you feeling? A bit overwhelmed? Perhaps even a little angry? Don’t worry, we’ve been there too. If we can offer any advice, it’s to turn that emotion into action!
You can delve deeper into more fast fashion facts and all things ethical fashion by reading our article, Every question you’ve ever had about ethical fashion, answered. And don’t be afraid to hit us up in our DMs—we’re always keen for a chat about ways we can set a better standard for tomorrow.