Fast fashion: Greenpeace sounds the alarm

On 'Black Friday', a big promotional opportunity for many US and European retailers, Greenpeace issued a warning about clothing overconsumption, stating it has a "serious environmental impact." 

| Foto: Corbis

Fast fashion is a source of waste, pollution, greenhouse gas and, under present conditions, recycling is not enough to counter these effects, according to the NGO. "Clothing is one of the best-selling product categories on 'Black Friday'", a day of promotional sales established in the USA and now popular in many other countries too.

"It is hard to resist a bargain, but fast fashion means that we consume and discard clothes faster than the planet can cope with," said Kirsten Brodde, in charge of Greenpeace's 'Detox my Fashion' campaign since 2011.

In the last 15 years, world apparel output has doubled. According to a McKinsey survey cited by Greenpeace, people buy 60% more clothes than 15 years ago, and keep each item for half the time as before.

Fashion labels have multiplied the number of collections while, from Brazil to India to the UK, prices have increased less, compared other fast-moving consumer goods, feeding the frenzy. According to the same survey, for the first time ever in 2014, the number of clothing items manufactured in a year topped the 100 billion mark, or almost 14 items for every human being.

This caused a myriad effects on the environment: chemical pollution from factories or from the pesticides used in cotton fields, and intensive use of water and energy resources, leading to global warming.

Greenpeace underlined that the boom of synthetic materials is a crucial issue, pointing the finger at polyester. It generates more CO2 than cotton, it is hard to degrade and can contain plastic microfibres, a poison for the oceans.

Also, "recycling is a myth," added Greenpeace, stating it is not yet viable either technically or commercially.

Stocks of bargain clothing are exported towards less developed countries, but their use is limited by their often shoddy quality.

According to the NGO: "brands need to rethink their disposable [apparel] approach, and manufacture durable clothing. As consumers, we also have this power: before buying, we can all ask ourselves whether we really need these clothes," added Kirsten Brodde.

Translated by Nicola Mira

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