Aerial view of a natural, rocky landscape with green vegetation and bodies of water, accompanying the title '20 Sustainable Fashion Facts' for State of Matter's feature on the rise of sustainable fashion.

20 Sustainable Fashion Facts

Picture this: You're rummaging through your closet, sifting through various clothes you've collected. Each piece tells a story, but have you ever thought about the broader narrative they're part of? The fashion industry, often glamorized and celebrated for its creativity, also has a less glamorous side - its environmental footprint.

From the water used in cotton farming to the waste generated by fast fashion, our wardrobe choices have far-reaching impacts. Below, we will share 20 sustainable fashion facts that may make you reconsider your next shopping spree. Welcome to a journey of understanding the true price of fashion and how we can navigate towards more sustainable choices.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion, also known as eco-fashion, is a design philosophy that aims to create a system that can be supported indefinitely in terms of environmentalism and social responsibility. It involves more than just addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. This means dealing with interdependent social, cultural, ecological, and financial systems.

Sustainable fashion considers the full lifecycle of clothes - from the design, sourcing, and production processes to the garment's marketing, sale, and eventual disposal. It values, respects, and strives to restore the environment while positively impacting society.

Key elements of sustainable fashion include reducing waste and pollution, promoting efficient use of resources, protecting the health of workers and consumers, and supporting fair trade practices. Consumers can help drive the industry towards more ethical and eco-friendly practices by choosing sustainable fashion.

20 Sustainable Fashion Facts

Sustainable fashion is more than a trend—it's a movement towards ethical and eco-friendly practices in the fashion industry. Here are 20 sustainable fashion facts that highlight the importance of this shift:

  1. The apparel and footwear industries account for an estimated 8% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. The value of the ethical clothing segment is forecast to be worth USD 8.3 Billion by 2025.
  3. 95% of clothing that gets thrown away could be recycled or upcycled.
  4. Only 15% of the textiles thrown away are recycled.
  5. McKinsey estimated that 60% of apparel items are in landfills within a year after purchase.
  6. Almost all textiles are recyclable.
  7. The fashion industry (including apparel and footwear) accounts for 8.1% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
  8. Sustainable fibers can save 20% of CO2 emissions.
  9. The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of total wastewater globally.
  10. As much as 20% to 35% of all primary source microplastics in the marine environment are from synthetic textiles.
  11. It takes around 7,500 liters of water to make a single pair of jeans – equivalent to the amount of water the average person drinks over seven years.
  12. If the fashion sector continues its current trajectory, it could use over a quarter of the world's annual carbon budget by 2050.
  13. The production of polyester, the most widely used fiber in clothing, emits three times more carbon dioxide than cotton.
  14. 25% of chemicals produced worldwide are used for textiles.
  15. The clothing industry is the second largest polluter of clean water after agriculture.
  16. Fast fashion items are often worn less than five times, kept for roughly 35 days, and produce over 400% more carbon emissions per item per year than garments worn 50 times and kept for a full year.
  17. Less than 1% of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing at the end of its life.
  18. In the EU, around 4% of waste is textile waste.
  19. The average American throws away about 80 pounds of used clothing per person per year.
  20. Clothing consumption produces 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per household per year – the equivalent of 6000 cars on the road.

These facts underline the importance and urgency of shifting towards sustainable fashion practices. By making mindful choices about what we wear, we can help mitigate these impacts and contribute to a more sustainable future.

How to Make Sustainable Fashion Choices

Making sustainable fashion choices involves shifting your mindset and adopting new habits, prioritizing the environment and social responsibility. Here are some tips on how to make more sustainable fashion choices:

Educate Yourself

The first step towards making sustainable fashion choices is to educate yourself about the fashion industry's impact on the environment and society. Understand what makes a brand or product sustainable, and learn to differentiate between genuinely sustainable brands and those that engage in greenwashing.

Buy Less and Buy Better

One of the simplest ways to make your fashion choices more sustainable is to buy less. Instead of buying many cheap items that won't last, invest in fewer high-quality items that will. Look for well-made and durable clothes so you can wear them for years.

Invest in Versatile, Trans-Seasonal Clothes

Choose clothes that can be worn through all seasons and are versatile enough to suit different occasions. This reduces the need for excessive clothing and promotes a minimalist and efficient wardrobe.

Choose Clothes Made from Sustainable Materials

Look for clothes made from organic or recycled materials. Organic cotton, for example, uses less water and is grown without harmful pesticides. Recycled materials, on the other hand, help to reduce waste.

Shop Secondhand and Vintage

Shopping secondhand or vintage is a great way to reduce your fashion footprint. These clothes are already in circulation, so no new resources are needed to produce them.

Repair Before Replace

Extend the life of your clothes by repairing them instead of replacing them. Simple repairs like sewing a button or patching a hole can greatly extend a garment's lifespan.

Swap, Donate, or Recycle Your Clothes

Instead of throwing away clothes you no longer need, consider swapping them with friends, donating them to charity, or recycling them. This helps to reduce waste and give your clothes a second life.

Avoid Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is notorious for its negative environmental impact and poor labor practices. Opt for slow fashion brands that prioritize sustainability and fair labor practices.

Every small step counts when it comes to making sustainable fashion choices. By making these changes, you can help reduce your wardrobe's environmental impact and contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry.