New shocking facts about the impact of fast fashion on our climate

Our planet is in serious trouble and our nation’s addiction to new clothes is doing more harm than you may think

It’s estimated that more than two tonnes of clothing are bought each minute in the UK, more than any other country in Europe.
That amount produces nearly 50 tonnes of carbon emissions - the same as driving 162,000 miles in a car.

Buying just one white cotton shirt produces the same amount of emissions as driving 35 miles in a car.

New research by WRAP shows just how polluting the UK’s consumption of new clothes really is. In one month alone, the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK was greater than flying a plane around the world 900 times. This is the same amount of carbon emissions the nation could save if we all took part in Second Hand September.

In 2019, then 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg stood up in front of world leaders at Davos to deliver a chilling wake up call.

World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico

We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people.”

Greta Thunberg

Greta sparked a wake-up call across the globe demanding drastic change to save our planet and in turn, ourselves. We’re all feeling the effects of the climate emergency, but it is not affecting us all equally.

The world's poorest people have contributed the least to the climate crisis, yet are suffering the full force of its impacts - increased flooding, droughts and storms destroying lives, homes, jobs, livestock and crops.

When Greta said, “our house is on fire” she wasn’t wrong. We are seeing unprecedented wild fires spreading across the Amazon rainforest, the lungs of our planet, producing 20% of the world’s oxygen. Greenland’s ice sheet is melting so fast it has caused global sea levels to rise 0.5mm in just one month.

Farmers like Hudan in Ethiopia are having to adapt in a drastically warming world to months without rainfall. Our planet is in serious trouble.

But things could be different. As Greta pointed out “The main solution is so simple that even a small child can understand. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Obvious actions stand out – flying less, driving less, taking more public transport. But how about buying fewer new clothes? With the global textile industry producing more greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined – it could be a more important change than we think.

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The carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK each month is greater than flying a plane around the world 900 times

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Graphic: The carbon footprint of clothes bought in the UK every minute is greater than driving around the world 6 times

Graphic: The carbon footprint of new clothes bought every second in the UK is the same as driving a car from the UK to the Costa del Sol in Spain and back