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Fast Fashion - Referat

The textile industry currently causes 1.2 trillion tons of CO2 every year - more than international flights and cruises combined. According to a study by the British Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the entire textile industry could be responsible for a quarter of climate-damaging CO2 emissions by 2050. The fashion industry as part of the textile industry alone is responsible for five percent of global emissions. They arise during the extraction of plastic fibers, further processing and long transport routes. Factories are mostly powered primarily by coal. More than 150 billion pieces of clothing are manufactured every year, and the number is increasing. So far, many companies have taken practically no action to counteract climate change.

One should ask of how long this can go on and how much of the blame lies with us consumers. In 2018, Italian households spent approximately 51 billion euros on clothing. Over five billion pieces of clothing hang in Germany's closets. That makes around 95 items of clothing per head. One in five of these items is almost never worn. Even worse, Italy, over 120 items per head while having the highest Textile Waste In the EU, with 7.7 kilograms of textile waste per person.

11 kilos! This is how much CO2 it takes to produce an average cotton T-shirt. Divided into these 4 areas. 11% for the production of the fabrics. 28% for production of the t-shirt, 27% for shipping, packaging and distribution around the world and finally 33% of the 11 kilos are our use of the clothes, so wearing, washing and eventually throwing them away.

Not only the CO2 emissions are important to know, but also the water consumption. Many do not even know how much water clothes need. That's why I want to ask how much water a normal cotton t-shirt needs, according to you. For a T-shirt it is about 2700 liters of water, a pair of jeans 8000 liters and for shoes even 16000 liters of water. It should be added here that cotton clothing requires much more water than, for example, clothing made of polyester. A polyester t-shirt only uses 17 liters of water but has other terrible effects on the climate, but I'll get into that in more detail later.

Half of the garments are made of synthetic fabrics, mainly polyester. The problem with synthetic clothing is the microplastics. With every wash, microplastics are released from the clothes that get into our waters and are eventually eaten by fish. At some time, we reabsorb microplastics through our food.

In addition to climatic damage, people also suffer from the textile industry. Over 60 million work for, them officially, undisclosed figure due to child labor is far higher. They produce more than 150 billion pieces of clothing every year. 100 hour weeks are the rule, and all that for €2 per day.

The problem is that over 90% of clothing is produced outside of Europe. The largest producers are China, Bangladesh and India. Regulations on working conditions are completely absent in such countries or are simply ignored by producers or corrupt state bodies or entire governments are getting bribed.

These are all effects of fast fashion, its biggest exponents are H&M, Zara, Primark, GAP, Topshop and many more. These brands took the looks and design elements from the top fashion houses and reproduced them quickly and cheaply. For some time now, however, there has been one company that outshines all the others in a negative sense - it even established a new category, ultra-fast fashion. SHEIN has been the largest fashion label in the world since
the end of 2021 and generated sales of 8.6 billion euros in 2020, with an enterprise value of approximately 100 billion euros, and the numbers keep skyrocketing. Unfortunately, Shein also uses the dirty tricks of the entire textile industry, they keep stealing other small creators designs to be able to introduce up to 7000 new styles per day. Zara and H&M only manage 200 new styles per week. In addition, SHEIN claims to have sustainability labels, for which they are not even qualified. Employees are exploited working 12-14 hours a day 28 days a month, all that to be able to offer a t-shirt for €2 even though it's illegal in China where SHEIN is located and where SHEIN produces. Furthermore, SHEIN engages in greenwashing Advertises with sustainability, organic cotton or recycled polyester. Taking a closer look, you will realize only 1400 clothes are made out of recycled polyester and only 181 out of organic cotton. In summary, SHEIN is one of the most opaque, immoral corporations in the world. The spearhead of an exploitative, filthy system. The embodiment of the worst that globalization and capitalism has to offer.

But which action do we have to take to counteract fast fashion. It's certainly blaming politics, as it's done with all climatic problems. No, we, every one of you, every single one has to show personality and take responsibility to reconsider and change their clothing shopping habits. Steps everyone can take are “buy less, choose well, make it last.”, a high-quality garment made of eco-friendly fabric is essential, keep and wear them as long a possible even if it's not trendy right now.

This comparison shows what a big impact it can have, for example, to only buy clothing made from organic cotton. In conventional cultivation, pesticides are used and cotton is genetically modified. Both banned in organic cultivation. Organic cotton needs half the water than conventional cotton. The only thing that cannot be improved by this are the working conditions. The companies' actions are required for this. But if consumers want more organic clothing from fair cultivation, the industry has to adjust to that.

I will pay more attention to that in the future, even if I don't identify with fast fashion. I don't buy 60 pieces of clothing a year and I certainly don't have 120 pieces in my closet either, that's the reason I chose this topic as a presentation because I think it's easier to talk critically and objectively about a topic which you or others identify with you.

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