6 Stunning Facts about Fashion Industry Waste

The biggest trend of fashion is ones no one wants to be seen in. Everyone loves to wear brand new clothes on every occasion because events are associated with clothing. The clothing and textile industry is the third-largest polluter in the world. Fashion week in France, full of colourful, luxurious dresses, make this event stunning. The fashion and textile industry has seen a boom in the last 20 years, with a current worth of $3 trillion. Average consumers buy 60% more clothes as they did before. So, fast fashion has replaced slow fashion. Although fast fashion has made shopping affordable, its cost is our environment.

Unfortunately, we don’t have sustainable wearing practices that lead to more textile and fashion industry waste. The fashion industry accounts for 2% of the total GDP of the world. Waste produced from the fashion industry affects humans, plants, and animals equally. Fashion waste statistics help us to look deep into how our fashion habits affect us and our environment. This article would give you an insight into stunning facts about fashion industry waste that would leave you in awe.

The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of total Greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions

Fashion industry waste can be a pre-manufacturing waste, post-manufacturing waste, and waste generate during the process. The chemicals, colouring agents, oil, grease, and microfibers are some of the waste products release into the environment. The various reason for waste generation from the fashion industry are lack of awareness about sustainable clothing, fast fashion, diverse attitude toward fashion, and frequency of shopping. Following are some harmful effects of the textile industry on humans and their environment.


1- Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of total Greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions. The potential GHGs are carbon dioxide, methane, water vapours, oxides of nitrogen, and sulphur. These gases contribute to air pollution, acid rain and cause global warming. Sadly the data for fashion industry waste is not getting better. Fire dust, ash, and sawdust mix with air and pollute it. This can cause respiratory disease -asthma and upper respiratory disorder- in humans.

2- High Carbon and Water Footprint:

Since the textile products are made from cotton, the footprint of textile products is HUGE. Just one pair of T-shirts and jeans require 5,000 gallons of water. And emission during their manufacturing is a separate discourse. In Uzbekistan, cotton farming uses water from the Aral Sea, and it ended up drying. So, the fashion industry consumes resources at a much faster rate leading to water pollution. The general life span of a piece of cloth is 5.4 years. If you just wear your clothes for three more months, then It will reduce the water and carbon footprint by 5 to 10%. Sound strange, isn’t it?


3- Garments Ended Up in Landfills:

One in every two people do not reuse and recycle their garments. Consumers usually do not recycle their clothes, so they ended up in landfills. About 64% of garments produce each year is thrown away in landfills. It took years and years for a piece of cloth to degrade.

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  2. High Carbon and Water Footprint

  3. Garments Ended Up in Landfills

  4. Ocean Pollution from Textile and Fashion Industry

  5. Water Pollution

  6. Work-Related Hazards In Fashion Industry

4- Ocean Pollution from Textile and Fashion Industry:

Clothing creates half a million tons of microfiber -equivalent to 50 billion plastic bottles- that ended up in oceans. But this topic gains very little attention. The life of marine animals is at risk due to textile industry pollution. Microfiber pollution alters the whole aquatic ecosystem as well as causes the death of marine life.

One garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped every second around the world. Imagine the magnitude of the problem. Around 85% of textile and fashion industry waste is buried or burned. This amount of waste is enough to fill the Sydney Harbor annually. The rest of 12% is used to stuff mattresses. Only 1% of all garments are reused to make new products. Burning is a common practice to manage the fashion industry’s waste. Therefore, a large number of pollutants are released into the air.

5- Water Pollution:

Different chemicals are involved at various stages of the manufacturing of products. Most industries release chemical effluent, oil, and dyes in water bodies. So, water pollution is the ultimate problem. Textile dyeing is the second-largest polluter of water that is dumped in lakes, rivers, and ditches. In a nutshell, the fashion industry contributes to 20% of water pollution. The dying process uses enough water that can fill 2 million Olympic-sized pools each year. The waste products are toxic and hazardous that threaten the life in water as well as makes it unfit for drinking purpose. It disturbs millions of people whose lives depend upon water for day-to-day work.

The use of synthetic textiles such as polyester in the fashion industry has increased. According to a report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2017, 35% of microplastic in the ocean came from the laundering of synthetic textiles.

6- Work-Related Hazards In Fashion Industry:

Around 27 million workers in the fashion industry affect by work-related illnesses. Skin and eye diseases are common among workers of bleaching and dyeing sections.


A Way Forward:

Consumers play a huge role in piling textile and fashion industry waste. So, a shift towards sustainable wearing practices would help to reduce our impact on the environment. Several initiatives both by consumers and industry can help to combat fashion waste. Circular innovation in fashion, slow down the trend of fast fashion, and reusing and recycling clothing material would help to reduce the waste by half.



The fashion industry has been continuously expanding for the last two to three decades. As people tend to buy more clothes, the fashion industry waste continues to increase. People give a little attention to this waste, but it generates a negative impact on people and their environment. Water depletion and greenhouse gas emissions are two potentially harmful effects of fashion industry waste. Moreover, water and air pollution are also caused by apparel waste. Efficient management of fashion industry waste can help to reduce its long-lasting impacts.