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Fast Fashion and Its Impact on Our Environment, Part 1 of 2

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On today’s program, we’ll explore fast fashion and its impact on the world’s environment. Consistent with their name, fast fashion garments are designed quickly, mass-produced, and transported rapidly to stores to keep up with new trends. The pollution, waste, and emissions of fast fashion have serious consequences for our planet. We produce 100 billion garments each year. That means 400% more clothes are being made now compared to 20 years ago. On average, a garment is worn seven times before being thrown away. Only 15% of clothes are recycled or donated, and the rest are burned or end up in landfills.

“This is the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. It’s the driest place on Earth and a graveyard for fast fashion. It’s full of used clothes mostly from the US, Europe, and Asia.” “It threatens the desert's unique biodiversity… and the health of hundreds of people living nearby.” Similar to the situation in Chile, fast fashion has become a huge textile waste problem in Ghana. “An estimated 40% of the clothing shipped here ends up in landfills. The clothes are then washed from the landfills into the sea.”

The fashion industry causes approximately 10% of total global CO2 emissions each year. According to research, by 2050, carbon emissions produced by the fashion industry could rise to 25% of the world’s carbon budget. A recent study found that just wearing synthetic clothes causes microplastics to be released into the air. It’s estimated that 35 percent of the microplastics in the ocean come from the fashion industry. Microplastics are harmful to fish-people, other marine life, and bird-people and now they are also being found in our food, water, and air.

At an international gathering with our Association members, Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan) advised us to use less and live a simple way of life. “You don’t really need that much. Of course, I do need some clothes to wear to go out, look like everybody else, just to blend in. Otherwise, really, you don’t need many clothes, just two, three pairs of clothes to wash and change. You just need the basics.”

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