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Fast Fashion

Climate Impact:

What you can do

Buy fewer clothes, buy clothes that will last and buy second-hand clothes.

Who's doing it?

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Climate impact

Rejecting fast fashion could prevent an estimated 0.3 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year (see impact calculations). It also helps force the fashion industry to address unsustainable practices. 

Whether buying natural materials like cotton or synthetic materials like polyester or nylon, all clothes have a very real carbon footprint. 


Additional benefits
  • Save money

  • Support charity shops

  • Ensure you're not supporting child labour

  • Prevent micro-plastic pollution from new clothes

  • Less flexibility in what you can wear

  • Shop through the Asos *responsible clothes* portal for men and women

  • See 7 online fashion rental services in UK and USA

  • Buy second hand clothes from local charity shops or online


  • Buy clothes made from recycled fabrics

  • Buy higher quality clothes that will last longer

  • Up-cycle old clothes or share clothes with friends

  • Use a clothing rental service for special occasions

  • Learn to sew and mend old clothes

Facts and further information
  • The fashion industry contributes around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions - consuming more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined. 


  • If it continues on its current path, the fashion industry could use more than a quarter of the global carbon budget by 2050 [1].


  • The most common clothing material is polyester, which is a plastic, derived from oil. Polyester clothes are not biodegradable. 

  • Approximately 85% of textiles go to landfill or are incinerated [2].

  • A polyester shirt has more than double the carbon footprint of a cotton shirt [3]. Switching from polyester to recycled polyester clothing can save 80% in toxins, around 60% in energy consumption, and up to 40% of CO2 emissions [4]


  • Switching from conventional to organic cotton can cut emissions by 46%, as nitrogen waste from fertilisers is eliminated. Currently though, less than one per cent of all cotton is organic.


  • The production of textiles also uses a huge amount of water. It takes about 8,000 litres of water to make one pair of jeans and 2,700 litres to make a single T-shirt [5].

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Impact assessment

Weight of clothes bought in the UK per year [6] = 1,130,000 tonnes
Weight of CO2e emissions per tonne of clothing purchased [6] = 23.2 tonnes

Total clothing CO2e emissions per year in the UK (23.2 x 1,130,000) = 26.2 million tonnes CO2e

Population of the UK = 66.5m

Therefore, CO2e emissions per person, per year in the UK (26.2/66.5) = 0.4 tonnes CO2e

With a reduction in purchasing, increased reliance on second-hand clothing and purchasing higher quality, more durable clothes, a reduction of 75% of clothing related emissions is considered reasonable.

Resultant saving (0.4 x 75%) = 0.3 tonnes CO2e

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