by Maite Cezario, our wonderful intern!

The Hidden Cost of Fashion


The consequences of fashion have not always been talked about like they are now. Previously, it could have been that we as people were turning a blind eye to it, but I believe we are now paying attention to it because it is a topic to talk about that is gaining visibility quickly. The fashion industry is said to be the second largest polluting industry in the world. It is crazy to imagine and we might question it and ask ourselves how, but unfortunately it is true.

Just in 2015, the fashion industry generated 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases. The fashion industry is also responsible for about a fifth of the global water pollution (Segran, 2019). While about 790 million people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water, about 1.5 trillion litres are used every year by the fashion industry. Because of these alarming statistics, we have seen many fashion companies promise to change and show efforts in sustainability. The issue with this is that about 40% of all fashion companies have not even started the process of change yet by setting targets and rethinking their supply chain (Segran, 2019).

The change we have been seeing has been coming from small and mid-sized companies. Talking about change is not merely enough to do what needs to be done. These changes that are necessary must come from big companies so that others can follow by example. According to the Global Fashion Agenda’s chief sustainability officer, Morten Lehmann, once big companies start working together and sharing solutions, the industry can move forward. Lehman continues with sharing that the industry needs to handle the infrastructure challenges such as developing sustainable materials, building and implementing recycling facilities for clothes and shoes, and using technology to make the supply chain less wasteful.

We hope this gave you a bit of insight into the current situation. We've developed a range of articles addressing the impacts of the fashion industry and what can be done, to get you thinking about our impact on the environment during Fashion Revolution week!

Sustainability, slow fashion and the circular economy are the cornerstones of what we do at The Social Outfit. You can learn more about our impact here, or shop the latest in beautiful, ethically-made fashion here.

Here are some of the articles we used when developing this blog post, check them out: 

“Global WASH Fast Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Apr. 2016,

Segran, Elizabeth. “Bad News: The Fashion Industry Is Actually Slowing down on Sustainability.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 10 May 2019,
April 23, 2020 — TSO Staff

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