Fossil Fashion

Today’s fashion industry has become synonymous with overconsumption, a snowballing waste crisis, widespread pollution and the exploitation of workers in global supply chains.  What is less well known is that the insatiable fast fashion business model is enabled by cheap synthetic fibres, which are produced from fossil fuels, mostly oil and gas. Polyester, the darling of the fast fashion industry, is found in over half of all textiles and production is projected to skyrocket in the future. Our campaign exposes  clear correlation between the growth of synthetic fibres and the fast fashion industry – one cannot exist without the other. The campaign calls for prompt, radical legislative action to slow-down the fashion industry and decouple it from fossil fuels.

Fossil fashion: the hidden reliance of fast fashion on fossil fuels

February 2021

This report reveals the hidden reliance of the fast fashion industry on fossil fuels. It demonstrates how the historical and projected growth of synthetic fibres, such as polyester, has become the backbone of the prevailing unsustainable fast fashion business model, which is driving runaway consumption and presents a major obstacle to a circular economy. It also uncovers how, in light of the fashion industry’s growing dependence on fossil fuels, the oil and gas industry are betting on production of plastic, including plastic-fibres, as a growing share of their revenue. The production of polyester alone is leading to annual GHG emissions equivalent to 180 coal power plants and this is projected to nearly double by 2030. In addition to the climate crisis, fashion’s addiction to fossil fuels is also driving the waste crisis – from ubiquitous microfibre pollution to mountains of textile waste ending up in nature, landfills and incinerators. The report calls for a considerable slow-down of fast fashion and highlights the upcoming EU textile strategy as a good opportunity to introduce sweeping legislation that should change the course of the industry.

Download the report

English