How Fashion Trends Affect the Environment

Fashion trends usually refer to the fashion consuming behavior of mankind. Before discussing the fashion trends let’s have a look into the term “fashion” and “style”. It is the individual’s attitudes, choice, views, features or way of leading life and way of thinking. For example, one may prefer to wear a hat with red glass. It is his/her personal choice and it is the style. When any particular style has been accepted by the mass people for a certain period of time, it is termed as fashion or fashion trend or trends. Without popularity or acceptance, the individuals choice is merely a personal style.

Fashion Trends Affect the Environment

For example, if the majority of the people began to wear a hat with red glass for a certain time period, a hat with red glass would be the fashion trend. Fashion trend is constantly changing and in this 21st century, consumers are used to the fast-fashion having a very short life cycle. Hence fast-fashion takes very little time from cradle to crave and influences our surroundings significantly. In this present world, it is the 2nd largest polluter of the environment. To meet the rapidly growing demand for fast fashion a large number of fashion apparel producing industries is being established. And these industries consequently affect the environment drastically.

Impacts of Fast Fashion on the Environment:
As a result of the increasing demand of the fast-fashion, our society, as well as the environment, are affected deadly. The effects caused by the fast-fashion are illustrated below.

Impact on resources:
In fact, the resources of this world are very limited. And so we have to make the proper utilization of this limited resource. Otherwise, we are sure to face the material crisis and ultimately creates the imbalance in material availability. Many important resources are being wasted in creating fast fashion, which is not available when needed to meet the basic demands. A huge amount of fresh water is required for the dyeing process. For instances, almost 200 tons of fresh water is needed per ton of dyed fabric. Besides, 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce just 1kg of cotton.

Impact on the Environment:
Textile and apparel industries dump poisonous effluents and wastewater into surroundings and endangering the aqua species. However, another most concerning issue is that the chemicals used in the textile processes are seriously deleterious for human health and may cause serious diseases like cancer, respiratory problems or other skin diseases. Fashion apparels made of synthetic fibers are a great threat for the sea lives. Many species have already been thrown to the extinction due to the disposal of left-over fashion clothes into the sea. Since the lifespan of fast fashion is very short, they are thrown into the environment in less time than they take to be made. The notable impacts of using fast-fashion are as below-

  1. The fast fashion industry produces 1.2 billion tons of CO 2 per year. This is equivalent to more emissions than air travel and international shipping.
  2. Fast fashion is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater.
  3. Making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles.
  4. 60% of clothing produced in one year is thrown away into landfills.
  5. One t-shirt takes 2,700 litres of water to make. Surprisingly, that is 1,350 days of drinking water for one person.

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Impact on Society:
To meet the extreme demand for fast fashion, a lot of mills are constantly being set up. The pressure of the factory owners on the workers is also increasing. Moreover, many additional child labourers have to be hired for short lead time. Most of the time, factory management even forget about compliance issues though it is one of the most sought aspects from buyers end. The notable impacts of using fast-fashion are as below-

  1. Many children are forced into child labour in countries with fast fashion factories, such as India, Argentina, Bangladesh and China.
  2. 30 percent of the materials used in clothing production has been found to pose a serious threat to human health.
  3. Over 50 percent of garment workers are paid way below minimum wage, leaving them without enough money to live a decent life.
  4. There are over 75 million garment workers in the world today who do not have access to the same rights as labour workers in the U.S.
  5. A majority of garment workers are forced to work in extreme and hazardous conditions.

Measures to reduce adverse impacts:
With the increase in purchasing power, people’s tastes are changing drastically and the demand for fast fashion is also increasing. People will use fast fashion even if there are various adverse impacts as a result of using it. So we have to find a way to eliminate the problems caused by this as much as possible. There is tremendous research underway on these issues of social and environmental sustainability. We may take some preventive actions to reduce the adverse impacts of using fast fashion which is not avoidable in this modern era. Some of the remarkable measures are as follows-

  1. We should be thrifty in using the fashion clothes.
  2. Should be aware of disposing of the left-over clothes.
  3. Shop ethical and sustainable brands
  4. Learn more detail about the fast fashion manufacturing process and industry.
  5. Should emphasize on the organic materials while making the fashion items.
  6. Should introduce the green production processes.
  7. Should ensure the green supply chain management.

Though fast-fashion is the demand of time, it creates so many negative impacts on the environment. Inhabitants are suffering a lot from various social and hygiene problems. Due to the enormous emission of CO2, this beautiful earth is already gone to be unfit for living. Just as people cannot stop using fashion items, the negative aspects of it should not be forgotten. Both the consumers and manufacturers should be aware of the negative impacts of fashion apparel on the environment. Fast-fashion is somewhat like the luxury of aristocratic society. They should give first priority to the place where they live and then fashion. Creating mass awareness and willingness to change is utmost to reduce the adverse impacts of fashion trends.


  1. Style and Fashion from accessed on 1st August 2020
  2. Environmental impact of fashion from Wikipedia accessed on 1st August 2020
  3. Birtwistle G, Moore CM. Fashion clothing–where does it all end up? Int J Retail Distrib Manag. 2007;
  4. Kim E, Fiore AM, Kim H. Fashion trends: Analysis and forecasting. Berg; 2013.
  5. Morgan LR, Birtwistle G. An investigation of young fashion consumers’ disposal habits. Int J Consum Stud. 2009;33(2):190–8.

Author of this Article:
Engr. Dilruba Yeasmin
B.Sc. in Textile Engineering, (BUTEX)
Regular writer at the textile learning-based blog site, Texpedia

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