It ‘s cheap.
Brands, especially fast-fashion brands use coal because it is also cheap, accessible and built into the industry’s existing infrastructure, while alternatives require upfront investment and come with their own challenges.
Also in the past years, there is increasing evidence that shows the fashion industry relies heavily on the use of cheap synthetic fibers; in particular polyester, to fuel its insatiable fast-fashion business model.
Do you know that the fashion sector represents the largest consumption of textiles? In 2019, it accounted for more than 70% of the global textiles market. Today, polyester can be found in more than half of all textiles or fibers used to make clothes.
The new analysis from Changing Markets Foundation shows that the textile industry is currently accountable for 1.35% of global oil consumption production of synthetic fibers due to production of synthetic fibers; and informs that the utility of synthetic fibers has doubled in the last 20 years.
This report even predicts that synthetics are likely to represent three quarters of global fiber production in 2030, and polyester will be accountable for 85% of this share.
Nowadays, environmental groups are asking the fashion industry to reevaluate its dependence with fossil fuels, mainly because of the heavy use of cheap synthetic fibers, especially polyester, to fuel its insatiable fast-fashion business model.
But what would it take for the industry to stop using fossil fuels?
There are many alternatives that fashion can easily start applying in order to reduce and eliminate over time fossil fuels. Some examples are grown natural fibers or the new bio-textiles, start transitioning to renewable energy, stop using coal for thermal heating used in wet processing and help the consumer understand what they are buying and how to buy in a more responsible way?
Here, the concept and business model known as ‘fast fashion’ is key to the problem. It has contributed to a global spike in textile waste, as more and more clothes are consumed than ever before. Many fast-fashion or ultra fast fashion brands are now creating as many as 20 collections a year. Consumers are purchasing 60% more clothes than they did 15 years ago and yet wearing them for half as long or not even taking them out of their wardrobe.
A solution in the fashion industry is needed and from both sides (brands and consumers); fast fashion’s pursuit for cheap clothing will increase intolerable volumes of waste or toxic microfibres, and continue to emit more carbon than the planet can handle. It is time to free fashion from fossil addiction.
Change is an investment and comes with its own challenges.