Science and Tech


Fast Fashion's Impact On The Environment

The fashion industry has a major impact on the environment and there can be a lot of waste associated with cheaper clothing typically bought at malls.
Posted at 4:26 PM, Nov 30, 2021

Anna Coon is president of UThrift — a student organization at the University of Miami — in a city that is known for trendy fashion. But with fashion — specifically cheaper, fast fashion that's often sold in malls and shopping centers — there can be a lot of waste.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the fashion industry is the second biggest consumer of water on the planet. It takes about 700 gallons of water to produce just one cotton shirt and 2,000 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans.

35% of all microplastics in the ocean come from washing synthetic clothing like polyester. The fashion industry is also responsible for about 10% of all carbon emission on Earth.

The average piece of fast fashion clothing is only worn seven times before it is thrown away. So a couple of years ago, students at the University of Miami decided to try and extend the life cycle of clothing by forming UThrift. They collect clothing donations from the university community and give them away for free at an open air market on campus.

"This semester we've gotten over 3,000 donations," Coon said. "And we get about 100 people coming to the stand everyday."

For students it's a win-win. They're getting a wardrobe refresh for free and helping the environment in the process. 

It's a concept they hope students at other universities around the country can feel empowered to try and do too.