The environmental price of fast fashion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Authors:
  • Kirsi Niinimäki
  • Greg Peters
  • Helena Dahlbo
  • Patsy Perry
  • Timo Rissanen
  • And 1 others
  • External authors:
  • Alison Gwilt

Abstract

The fashion industry is facing increasing global scrutiny of its environmentally polluting supply chain operations. 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 79 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.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Reviews Earth & Environment
Early online date7 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2020