Fast fashion – the stats

OK so you know fast fashion is bad – the stats will shock you into action


In Europe, fashion companies went from an average offering of two collections per year in 2000 to five in 2011. European Parliament

Zara puts out 24 collections per year, while H&M offers between 12 and 16. European Parliament


People bought 60% more garments in 2014 than in 2000 and only kept the clothes for half as long. McKinsey

The average person buys 60 per cent more items of clothing every year. BBC Earth


Each year in the US alone, customers return approximately 3.5 billion products, of which only 20% are actually defective. BBC Earth

Each year, 5 billion pounds of waste is generated through returns.  BBC Earth


Clothing production doubled from 2000 to 2014. BBC Earth

Producing polyester, a plastic fiber found in an estimated 60% of garments, releases two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton. Greenpeace

The fashion industry is also the second-largest consumer of water worldwide. UNECE

It takes about 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt. That’s enough water for one person to drink at least eight cups per day for three-and-a-half years. WRI, Jul 17

It takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans. That’s more than enough for one person to drink eight cups per day for 10 years. UNEP

If 3% of garment transportation shifted from ship to air cargo – a burgeoning trend in the industry – it could result in over 100% more carbon emissions than if all garment transportation was by ship. Nature

Waste dumps

Up to 85% of textiles go into landfills each year. That’s enough to fill the Sydney harbor annually. UNECE

The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second. UNEP

Environmental impact

The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions – that’s more emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. UNEP

If the fashion sector continues on its current trajectory, that share of the carbon budget could jump to 26% by 2050. EMAF, Dec 17

Fashion production dries up water sources. Business Insider

Textile dyeing is the world’s second-largest polluter of water, since the water leftover from the dyeing process is often dumped into ditches, streams, or rivers. UNEP

The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution worldwide. WRI, Jul 17

Polyester, a plastic fiber found in an estimated 60% of garments, does not break down in the ocean. Greenpeace

Washing clothes releases 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. UNEP, EMAF, Nov 17

It’s estimated that 35% of all microplastics — very small pieces of plastic that never biodegrade — in the ocean came from the laundering of synthetic textiles like polyester. IUCN

Overall, microplastics are estimated to compose up to 31% of plastic pollution in the ocean. IUCN


Some apparel companies are starting to buck these trends by joining initiatives to be more sustainable. In March 2019, the UN launched the Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, which will coordinate efforts across agencies to make the industry less harmful. Business Insider

Find out what you can do!


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