50 fast fashion facts and figures to share with your customers in 2023.


Ten years ago, I wasn't the sustainable fashion advocate I am now. In my early twenties, I shopped at Supré, Cotton On and City Beach and I bought something new most weekends to wear out with the girls.

Nowadays, I know the facts about polyester like the back of my hand, I can talk about fast fashion and how much it sucks for hours, and I'm happy to spend $400 on a dress I'll love for a lifetime rather than spending $30 on something I'll wear once.

It could be growing up, but more than anything, I think it's education, and I always say, 'Once you know, you can't unknow'. 

And if I exist - a slow fashion advocate with mindful buying habits - there are more consumers out there like me. When I was running one of the largest online stores for ethical and sustainable fashion in Australia, I sold to thousands of customers like me, so if I can persuade people to shop sustainably and ethically, so can you. 

If you're running an ethical, sustainable, circular or slow fashion brand, your job is simple: educate your customers.

If you can plant the seed and educate them about the negative social and environmental impacts fast fashion, and show them that you are the better alternative, they'll be happy to invest in your slow fashion and you'll increase your sales.

Educate your customers and you'll encourage them to buy better. It's simple.

To help you do that, here's a list of 50 fast fashion facts and figures you can use to share on social media, in your blogs or in your newsletters, to educate your customers and get them thinking about their shopping habits. And how do these facts help you make sales? Use them to stop your customers scrolling, then give them a positive fact about your brand or a sustainable action they can take - like buying one of your ethical and sustainable products.

  1. 93% of global brands aren’t paying garment workers a living wage.

  2. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined.

  3. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions annually.

  4. The textile sector is responsible for 20% of global pesticide use.

  5. Every second, the equivalent of a rubbish truck load of clothes is burnt or buried in landfill.

  6. Three out of five garments end up in landfill within a year of being purchased.

  7. The production of synthetic fibres for the textile industry accounts for 1.35% of global oil consumption which exceeds the annual oil consumption of Spain.

  8. Fashion is responsible for 35% of the micro-plastic particles found in the ocean.

  9. Every time we do our laundry, an average of 9 million micro-fibers are released into wastewater treatment plants that cannot filter them.

  10. The world uses an estimated 80 billion pieces of clothing every year, a 400 percent increase from two decades ago.

  11. By 2030, global apparel consumption is projected to rise by 63%, from 62 million tons today to 102 million tonnes, which is equivalent to more than 500 billion additional T-shirts.

  12. Around 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in household bins every year, which is then sent to landfill or incinerators.

  13. Less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing at the end of its life.

  14. Global clothing companies create more than 1 million garments every day.

  15. Fast fashion emissions will grow by 50% by 2030, if current growth continues.

  16. Extending the life of clothes by just nine months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by 20-30% each.

  17. Of the 100 billion garments produced each year, 92 million tonnes end up in landfills.

  18. The average US consumer throws away 37 kilograms of clothes every year.

  19. The number of times a garment is worn has declined by around 36% in 15 years.

  20. The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global waste water.

  21. 2700 litres of water are used to make just one cotton t-shirt. 

  22. Just 12% of material used for clothing ends up being recycled. 

  23. 2.6 million tonnes of returned clothes end up in landfills in the US each year.  

  24. 15% of fabric used in garment manufacturing is wasted.

  25. On average, every Australian buys 56 items of clothing yearly. 

  26. Australia is now the second highest consumer of textiles per person in the world, after the USA.

  27. Each Australian disposes an average 23 kilograms of clothing to landfill each year.

  28. The average person only wears 40% of their clothes. 

  29. Of the clothes that go to charity, only 15% are resold within Australia. The rest are landfilled.

  30. The Shein app was downloaded 196 million times last year and now, its fast fashion sales are outperforming Amazon, Zara, H&M, ASOS and Boohoo.

  31. We throw away clothing after an average of seven to ten wears.

  32. 63% of all fashion is made with polyester, the world's dirtiest and deadliest fabric.

  33. 95% of Shein's fast fashion is made from petroleum-derived synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon or acrylic.

  34. Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world's use of polyester, and oil is a non-renewable resource. 

  35. A single polyester garment takes more than 200 years to break down in landfill, but it never decomposes. It just breaks down into smaller plastic particles, and those particles exist - forever. 

  36. The manufacturing process of polyester emits gasses like N2O, which is 300 times more damaging to our environment than CO2.

  37. One polyester shirt has a 5.5kg carbon footprint, compared to just 2.1kg for a cotton shirt.

  38. Polyester contains chemicals like perfluorochemicals (PFCs) and formaldehyde, both of which are proven to cause cancer, liver damage, kidney damage and reproductive issues.

  39. Bangladesh currently has the lowest minimum wage among the top garment-exporting countries.

  40. Garment workers in Bangladesh make an average of $75 USD per month.  

  41. Globally, more than 100 billion pieces of clothing are produced each year.  

  42. The growing, processing and manufacturing of cotton for a single pair of jeans consumes more than 7000 litres of water.

  43. The fashion industry releases more than 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 every year.

  44. New clothes bought in the UK produce more carbon emissions per minute than driving a car around the world six times. 

  45. Each week in the UK alone, 11 million garments end up in landfill.

  46. The emissions from all the new clothes bought in the UK each month are greater than those from flying a plane around the world 900 times.

  47. 33% of clothes are discarded within the first year of purchase.

  48. Australians dump more than 6000 kilograms of clothing and fabric waste into landfill every 10 minutes. 

  49. Most people regularly wear just 20% of their wardrobe.

  50. Every garment counts. When 8 billion people make conscious fashion choices, we can change the world.

To save you the time researching, I've gathered these fast fashion facts and figures from the top reputable research organisations and trusted publications so you can safely use them knowing they're verified and accurate. If you want a full list of my sources, email me.

Claire x

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