Negative impacts of fast fashion on the environment and the changes that may improve the scenario

Fast fashion is one of the sectors that most negatively impact the environment. It is responsible for a high loss of natural resources, pollution, and slave labor, mainly in remote regions. Changes are urgent for the scenario to become favorable. "Better safe than sorry". Read more. 

What actions should the fast fashion industry take to minimize the negative environmental impacts it produces?

Greenco a B Certified Corporation is aware that sustainability must be the main focus of any fashion-conscious company: “We choose materials that aren't harmful to nature, we produce consciously, and our products ‘walk the talk’. From start to finish, our sustainable ways are present. And when you buy something of ours, talk spreads. In short, WE SPEAK OF A BETTER WORLD. WE MAKE THE WORLD BETTER.”

Thus, changes in concepts regarding fast fashion production need to be immediately perceived by the conscious consumer who only chooses pieces produced for ethical and sustainable fashion or slow fashion, which joins the so-called Slow Movement.

Fast fashion continues to persist in error.

Unluckily many fast fashion companies still use fossil fuels in their clothing manufacture, despite many appeals and examples of the damage. These companies are thus responsible for up to 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions, more than the emissions from international flights and shipping combined.  

Polluting "villains" are still doing their “dirty duty”!


Polyester, for example, is a synthetic fiber widely used in fast fashion products. Because it is made from petrochemicals, it has a high polluting content. Its production has already surpassed that of cotton fabrics, the main textile fiber of the early 21st century. In 2015, polyester clothing emitted 282 billion tons of carbon dioxide, three times the production of cotton-based clothing. 


Fabrics made of polyester fibers release tiny particles of plastic, known as microplastics. These small portions worsen the pollution of the oceans, rivers, and lands as well. As is not enough, they harm marine animals. If they eat them catastrophic outcomes may take place because it can modify reproduction that can turn into some kind of mutation. Therefore, it hastens the extinction of the species.

An American study on the damage of synthetic fibers in nature stated that 35% of the microplastics found in the oceans are of textile origin, making the material one of the biggest polluters of the oceans. The study also found that marine mussels exposed to microplastics had their gills and digestive tracts altered. 

The scarcity of water used in the producing regions of Asia has been attributed to the production of fast fashion, directly linked to the contamination of local groundwater and the negative impact on ecosystems. In 2015, 79 billion cubic meters of water were spent by the fashion industry.  

A new polyester design can mitigate negative impacts on the environment!

 Luckily there is hope in this dark scenario of polyester damage.

Not all polyester is necessarily a “bad guy” due to its petrochemical ingredients. The kind of polyester contains natural polymers, such as bioplastics. The other good news is the existence of advanced studies regarding bacteria that feed on plastic. In short, either plastics are modified or they will be banned from the market for good

What needs to be changed? 

4 changes for the companies to join sustainable fashion:  

  1. Adopt new production rules such as monitoring buyers to show how to use properly their products. 

  2. Request an "Environmental Impact Assessment" as a prerequisite for approving their upcoming projects.

  3. Use raw materials such as organic cotton (BCI Seal) or hemp-made clothing, which are not treated with chemicals, among other advantages.

  4. Join the circular economy system in fashion production.

    6 changes for the consumers to join sustainable fashion: 

    1. Buy second-hand clothes in garage sales or thrift stores.

    2. Purchase only new certified garments with seals that show the composition of the fabric and that its production complied with Fair Trade.

    3. Join the minimalist movement and create your own "capsule wardrobe”.

    4. Donate to charities those clothes that don't fit or that you have lost interest in.

    5. Promote upcycling, a system that proposes the reuse of a product after it has been revitalized (refurbished). 

    6. Renting clothes for festive or solemn events as well as discouraging the purchase of new ones.

    Renting clothes for festive or solemn events as well as discouraging the purchase of new ones.


      The shortage of many natural resources is an indisputable reality, because of the fast fashion industry's bad habits, given that it has not yet joined the necessary switches, either due to greed, lack of interest, lack of information, or to its geographical location.

      Still, "time is short" because new attitudes will improve the sustainability of human development. It is essential, therefore, to measure, minimize and offset the impact generated by textile materials. It’s now or never!

      By Marco Veado - THINK GREEN