About 100 billion pieces of clothing are produced each year, which is equivalent to 14 pieces for every human being on our planet. The fashion industry is the third largest polluter of the environment after the automotive industry and technology companies.
The most widespread material in the world for the production of clothing is polyester. About 60% of the clothes you see in a regular store are made from it. This synthetic fiber made from petroleum has minimal breathability and zero antibacterial capabilities. However, it is very cheap. So when you see a beautiful satin dress by design from the Milan catwalk at a great price, look at the tag and the material composition.
Only 1% of clothing is recycled back into textile fibers. Only about 20% of clothing is actually recycled, while so-called downcycling is common, i.e. product devaluing and its use in an inferior role (clothing becomes, for example, cleaning rags or filling materials).
More than 80% of all clothing ends up in landfills, mostly in Africa. Take a look at what such a landfill looks like in Ghana https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-12/fast-fashion-turning-parts-ghana-into-toxic-landfill/100358702
Why are clothes so cheap? Because human capital is not included in their price. If, for example, Bangladeshi women wore clothes for large multinational companies, but citizens of the European Union, then the cost of their work would at least quadruple (the minimum wage in Bangladesh is 2,500 CZK per month, the lowest minimum wage in the EU is in Bulgaria - less than 9 000CZK, the highest is in Luxembourg - 57,000CZK) Watch the documentary True Cost (link), which will open your eyes.
Do you know the biggest producer of mass fashion today? It's not H&M or Zara, it's Shein. Shein is a Chinese giant with a turnover of 10 billion dollars, which is almost 260 billion crowns, which sends its products to 220 countries around the world. And do you know how many new clothing styles he adds to his website every day? 1000! that's 7,000 a week, 30,000 a month and a respectable 365,000 a year.
Recycling is especially difficult for mixed materials. If you have a 98% cotton 2% elastane cotton t-shirt, it is more difficult to recycle than a 100% cotton t-shirt. Buttons, zippers or any plastic, metal or other clothing components that must be manually separated from the textile fibers before the recycling process are also an obstacle.
nothing is 100%
If the clothing says that it is 100% recycled material, it is not entirely true. E.g. 100% recycled polyester means that the fabric contains an unspecified amount of recycled polyester, which is supplemented with newly produced so-called virgin polyester. By recycling, synthetic fiber significantly reduces its quality and must be replenished with fresh material.
But let's not be so negative. There are a number of innovative materials that are gradually replacing the classic ones. For example, a substance similar to leather can be grown from mycelium, pressed from pineapple leaves or skins from apples or grapes. Textile fibers can also be made from oranges or lotus flowers. And that's not all! Check out more incredible options here: https://www.sustainably-chic.com/blog/innovative-fabrics-in-sustainable-fashion
In addition to the fantastic new materials, there are a number of other initiatives that are trying to change the fashion industry for the better. Innovative software is able to design clothes in such a way that only minimal waste is generated during their production. Smart apps can tell you where a piece of clothing came from and how far it traveled to get to you. As part of circularity, platforms are created on which it is possible to breathe life into pieces of clothing that you no longer love by selling or exchanging them (swapping) or donating them to charity. It's just good!