Fast Fashion and the Environment

Posted by Earthlymart on May 17th 2019

So, let’s look at some facts about what our need for fashion does to the environment.

When natural fibers, like cotton, linen and silk, or semi-synthetic fibers created from plant-based cellulose, like rayon, are buried in a landfill, in one sense they act like food waste, producing the potent greenhouse gas methane as they degrade. But you can’t compost old clothes, even if they’re made of natural materials. “Natural fibers go through a lot of unnatural processes on their way to becoming clothing,” says Jason Kibbey, CEO of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. “They’ve been bleached, dyed, printed on, scoured in chemical baths.” Those chemicals can leach from the textiles and—in improperly sealed landfills—into groundwater. Burning the items in incinerators can release those toxins into the air.

Synthetic fibers, like polyester, nylon and acrylic, have the same effect on the environment, and because they are essentially made from petroleum, they will take hundreds of years or more to biodegrade. According to the EPA, Americans alone produced 15.1 million tons of textile waste in 2013, and around 85 percent of that ended up in landfills! On average each American throws away roughly 70-80 pounds of clothing and other textiles per year! WOW! That’s a lot of clothing! 


According to Greenpeace, global clothing production doubled from 2000 to 2014. The average person buys 60 percent more items of clothing every year and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago, generating a huge amount of waste!

So, what can we do? First, buy fewer, high quality pieces that will last. Make sure they are comfortable and that you feel good while wearing them! Looking good and feeling good go hand in hand.

So, what can we do to ease the burden we are placing on the environment?
You can shop at thrift or consignment stores, swap clothes with your friends or co-workers, or maybe renting clothes for a special occasion. Who wants to spend a ton of money on a pretty dress that you will only wear once?
Facebook groups are popping up all over where people in your area are selling clothes that they’ve on worn once or have outgrown. There are on-line stores like where you can buy and sell quality, slightly used clothing.

Fashion experts say that there are 5 key pieces that should be in every woman’s closet.
Your version of the “Little Black Dress”, a crisp white shirt, a pair of wide-legged trousers, a pencil skit and a sweater.

These pieces can be mixed and matched, accessorized differently for completely different looks and will end up being timeless and always in style.
Of course, caring for your clothing is important for it to last. Be sure to read and follow the care tag. We also recommend that you separate by colors. 

Cold water is the best for colors and for most loads of clothes that are not excessively dirty.

When washing whites, hot water and bleach was how we were taught but that isn’t good for helping your clothes last or good for the environment!

We recommend our Enviro-one laundry products. They are made from natural, plant-based ingredients that harness the power of oxygen to clean and brighten. They contain NO optical brighteners and are great in hot or cold water and can be used in standard or front-loading washing machines.