Row of red cotton shirts

The real cost of fast fashion

When you see a bargain $5 T-shirt, it might seem like a great buy, but there is a greater cost that you can’t see.

November 26, 2020

More than 60% of fabric fibres are now synthetic. These are derived from fossil fuels, so when fast fashion ends up in landfill, it doesn’t break down.

Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the developed world and it has been calculated that 6000 kilograms of clothing is dumped in landfill every 10 minutes; that’s 36,000 kilograms of discarded clothing every hour. This could fill the MCG with clothes over two and a half times every year.

Fast fashion also supports the ‘easy come, easy go’ mentality; the cheaper the clothes were to buy in the first place, the sooner they are discarded.

Fast fashion facts:

  • Most fast fashion is made from polyester, nylon, acrylic and viscose rayon, with polyester being the most common.
  • Polyester is made of similar material used to make soft drink and ketchup bottles.
  • Three-quarters of clothing purchased is thrown out within a year.
  • A third of Australians have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once.
  • Four in ten admitted to throwing unwanted clothing in the rubbish, sending it to landfill.
  • Around 40% of millennials have bought more than half of their entire wardrobe in the last year.
  • Australians purchase an average 27kg of clothing each year.

6 ways to reduce fashion waste and save money

  1. Shop pre-loved - it’s good for the environment, and easy, fun and affordable (it’s especially good for kids who outgrow their clothes really quickly!).
  2. Choose your fabrics - whenever you can, choose clothing made from silk, hemp, linen, and wool as these are all natural, low-impact textiles.
  3. Learn to sew and upcycle second-hand clothes – you’ll have something unique and will never bump into someone at a party wearing the same outfit.
  4. Reduce your clothing spend and put what you save into a bank account. You’ll be amazed how fast the money mounts up.
  5. Choose timeless pieces that will stand the test of time.
  6. Organise a clothes swap with friends.

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