The fashion industry is the 3rd most polluting industry in the world.
A large amount of waste happens at both the production stage, as our clothes are made, and the consumer stage, as we throw away or overly wash our clothes.
Dive into this sustainable fashion stats list to learn more about how and why eco-friendly fashion is so important.
General sustainable fashion facts
- The fashion industry (including apparel and footwear) accounts for 8.1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- As much as 20% to 35% of all primary source microplastics in the marine environment are from synthetic clothing, according to academic estimates.
- The value of the ethical clothing market increased by 19.9% in 2018, according to Ethical Consumer magazine.
- By 2030, it’s expected that there will be 148 million tons of fashion waste.
- 60% of millennials say they want to shop more sustainably
- 93% of Fashion Checker’s surveyed brands aren’t paying living wages to garment workers
- 26% of business owners surveyed by the Global Fashion Agenda say that “low consumer willingness to pay a premium for sustainable products” is a barrier to them focusing on sustainability
- Around 7,000 liters of water are used in the making of a pair of jeans.
- Under 1% of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing at the end of its life.
- 12.5% of global fashion companies have pledged to make changes to their process in favor of adopting more sustainable practices by 2020.
- 59 major textile, apparel, and retailers – including Adidas, Dibella, Eileen Fisher, Gap Inc., H&M, Lindex, MetaWear, Target, and Timberland— aim to increase their use of Recycled Polyester (rPET) by at least 25% by 2020.
- Of 71 leading clothing retailers in the UK, 77% believed there was a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some stage in their supply chains.
- A polyester shirt has more than double the carbon footprint of a cotton shirt (5.5 kg CO2e vs. 2.1 kg CO2e).
- 1.27 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents will be produced by the manufacturing and sales of apparel in 2030 if there aren’t major changes
- One kilogram of cotton – equivalent to the weight of a shirt and pair of jeans – can take as much as 10,000–20,000 liters of water to produce.
- The fashion industry is projected to use 35% more land for fibre production by 2030—an extra 115 million hectares that could be left for biodiversity or used to grow crops to feed an expanding population.
- Textile production is a major contributor to climate change. It produces an estimated 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per year – more than international flights and maritime shipping combined.
- Cotton farming is responsible for 24 per cent of insecticides and 11 per cent of pesticides despite using only 3 per cent of the world’s arable land (source).
- Worldwide clothing utilization has dropped by 36% compared to how much we used our clothes 15 years ago.
- Only 15% of people recycle their old or used clothing.
- An increase of 10% in second-hand clothing sales could deliver environmental benefits, cutting carbon emissions per tonne of clothing by 3% and water use by 4%. Check out our guide to the Best Online Thrift Stores here.
- Extending the life of clothing by an extra nine months could reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by around 20–30% each.
- Approximately 1,130,000 tonnes of clothing were purchased in the UK in 2016, an increase of almost 200,000 tonnes since 2012.
- In the UK alone, around three hundred thousand tonnes of clothing still ends up in household bins every year with around 20% of this going to landfill and 80% incinerated.
- 3 out of 5 new items of clothing are thrown away and incinerated within one year of purchase.
- Sales share of sustainable clothing is rising and the market share is set to reach over six percent by 2026
Sustainable fashion facts takeaways and recap
At both the production and consumer stage, there are huge improvements that can be made that will help create a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry.
I hope these eco-fashion facts help show you some of the things you can change, and reasons to advocate for and purchase from sustainable fashion brands. If you’re looking to for brands to avoid, instead discover the best affordable sustainable clothing brands here.
We also collected a complete list of the best TED Talks on Sustainable Fashion currently out there, which is a great resource to learn more.
If you have any interesting facts that we should include here, leave a comment below.