Protest against the Fast fashion industry in Berlin in September 2019. Photo: Stefan Müller. Source:


Ten percent of the world's emissions come from the fashion industry

Since the early 2000s, the fashion industry has produced so-called "fast fashion" - trendy and short-lived garments that are quickly replaced by new trends, and the fashion industry today accounts for about 10 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. This is the second part of Utvecklingsmagasinet's survey of the back of the clothing industry.

In the early 2000s, fast fashion really began to grow. Before that, the textile industry produced only half as many clothing collections. The fashion industry has received criticism because companies in the industry do not take responsibility for social issues and environmental impact - despite the fact that the clothing industry accounts for about ten percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

- Cheap consumer products are sold to us largely due to globalization, but they have been produced at the price of middle-class jobs, crafts and stable societies, writes the author Elisabeth L. Cline in the book "Overdressed: Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion".

Civil society organizations and to some extent individual governments make demands on companies, and companies can not act completely irresponsibly because everyone has legal obligations and rights, writes consultant Jennifer A Zerk in her book on corporate social responsibility, so-called "Corporate Social Responsibility" (CSR). But companies that produce and sell their goods in a country have less impact on the climate, unlike international companies such as H&M and Zara.

Integrating human rights into entrepreneurship could even out the division of responsibilities for the climate so that international fashion chains start working sustainably. The textile industry needs to create a sustainable balance by, among other things, demanding cooperation between designers, manufacturers and consumers, says the researcher, among others. Kirsi Niinimäkii.

- "Slow fashion" is the future. But it is difficult to change consumer behavior because clothes are primarily used for pleasure, he writes she in a scientific journal.

Text: Textile Factory in Lancashire, England, October 2013. Photo Chilanga Cement. Source:

Doctoral student Bahareh Zamani at Chalmers University of Technology focuses on solutions other than changing consumption behaviors, as low prices are and will always be attractive. Some alternative solutions are to increase textile recycling and to establish so-called clothing libraries - where you can borrow clothes for a low fee.

Europe's clothing consumption requires a lot of resources in developing countries

The fast fashion industry produces garments that are used a few times before being thrown away. It has contributed to increased waste that the western world often donates to developing countries. Some countries, including China, have banned textile imports because they have replaced domestic production.

The textile industry uses large amounts of water, chemicals and carbon dioxide. In 2015, an estimated 200 tonnes of water were used during the production of one tonne of textile. The majority of water consumption goes to cotton production, a production that is constantly increasing due to the demand for clothes. Polyester production requires not as much water as cotton, but it requires three times as much energy as it is produced from non-renewable sources such as oil and natural gas.

The textile industry uses more than 15 different chemicals during the manufacturing process of clothing and about 80% of consumer textiles in the EU are manufactured outside the area. This makes it difficult to calculate the amount of chemicals used. A textile factory in Europe that is in the final stages of production uses over 466 grams of chemicals per kilo of textile, while textiles that are marked to be manufactured in the EU are actually imported in semi-clear condition which is then completed on site. This means that the textile industry has a continued high impact on the environment - which, above all, the Western world is involved and contributes to. 


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