People of Earth: you have enough clothing.
The fashion industry produces gazillions of clothing items each year and, given that there are only 7 billion of us, that is more than sufficient — it is overkill. But it’s not just that there is too much being produced — a blistering opinion piece in Fast Company notes that the fashion industry and consumers are caught up in a vicious cycle of consumerism that is causing actual harm to the planet.
“In 2015, the fashion industry churned out 100 billion articles of clothing, doubling production from 2000, far outpacing global population growth,” writes Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D. “In that same period, we’ve stopped treating our clothes as durable, long-term purchases. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has found that clothing utilization, or how often we wear our clothes, has dropped by 36% over the past decade and a half, and many of us wear clothes only 7 to 10 times before it ends up in a landfill. Studies show that we only really wear 20% of our overflowing closets.”
Fashion is one of the planet’s biggest polluters. Trends like fast fashion, dirty fashion crops, and synthetic fibers have insidiously crept into our closets, our armoires, and our washing machines, creating havoc under the radar of which many consumers are not even aware. As this Vox piece notes, it is “possible that a single load of laundry could release hundreds of thousands of fibers from our clothes into the water supply.”
Part of the problem, of course, is us. We need to be satisfied with our current wardrobes, and stop making purchases of cheap clothing that we don’t really need. Stay tuned to #EarthsCall, where we will be exploring the fast-fashion problem in greater detail, soon.