Rethinking Fast Fashion
The idea of fast fashion is one that consumers and manufacturers should be paying more consideration to.
Polyester has risen as a leading fibre in fabrics found globally in retail, used in approximately 60% of new clothing found in stores. Polyester is comparatively inexpensive and versatile, but there are some severe detriments to polyester that harm the environment, as well as the purchaser.
Currently, there is approximately 21.3 million tons of polyester in retail globally, a 157% increase since 2000. Producing enough fibre for a polyester t-shirt contributes more than twice the amount of CO2 than the equivalent amount of cotton.
Polyester decomposes at a much slower rate than cotton and other natural fibres. Polyester holds more odours than natural fabrics, which will require it to be laundered more frequently. When washing a single polyester fleece jacket, approximately 1,900 individual microfibres are released from our washing machine into our water streams, making their way into our rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Consumers are spending less on clothes but are accumulating more in their closet. However, these same consumers are also concerned about the effects their shopping habits have on the environment. The Global Lifestyle Monitor™ survey showed that consumers prefer cotton to polyester:
- 3 out of 5 consumers say that better-quality garments are made from cotton
- 85% of consumers say cotton is safe for the environment, while only 51% can say the same for polyester
While cotton is preferred most by shoppers, it remains to be seen if consumers' love of fast fashion and low prices will overcome their concerns for sustainability. The issue of microplastics is becoming a hot topic within the textile and fashion industry. As people become more aware of the threats associated with microplastics and polyester, it can be expected that natural fibre options, like cotton, will be even more in demand due to its high biodegradability and sustainability to the planet.