Just How Sustainable is the Fashion Industry Really!

See how your outfit affects our planet and one way you can start creating a more sustainable fashion industry today

A $3 trillion industry. Causing 10% of all carbon emissions. And we’re throwing away 85% of it all every year. Prepare for a shocking look at how an unsustainable fashion industry really affects our planet. 

In this post, we look at how big the global fashion industry is, how many people it employs and its environmental and social impact, to see if it is sustainable. And, if not, what you can do about it right now.


Researchers estimate that the fashion industry is worth between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion in 2020. To give you an idea of what those statistics mean, that’s about 2% of all the goods that the entire world produces (gross domestic product [GDP] worldwide) in a year. 

And, in terms of jobs, the fashion industry is said to employ between 300 and 400 million people worldwide. That’s about 3.8–5.5% of the world’s population, or 1 in every 20 people you meet on the street.

But it wasn’t always this way. Fashion production basically doubled since the year 2000. And that’s part of the reason why it’s becoming such a big concern for our environment.


The fashion industry is the second biggest polluting industry in the world. Fashion production releases 10% of all the carbon emissions into the atmosphere every year – that’s just a little less than the oil industry.

And fashion is using up our water, too. For example: It takes about 20 000 litres of water to produce just 1kg of cotton. Or 200 tons of water to dye just 1 ton of fabric. And researchers believe that fashion production releases about 200 000 tons of potentially toxic dyes into water systems every year. And that’s why they say fashion accounts for 20% of all industrial water pollution.

But it wasn’t always this way. Fashion production basically doubled since the year 2000.

People are buying 60% more clothes than we did in 2000, and we’re keeping it for half as long. 

Experts say that the equivalent of about 1 garbage truckload full of clothes is dumped into a landfill every second!


At the moment, fashion is not sustainable at all. According to research, the fashion industry will double its water consumption and carbon footprint by 2030. And it’s going to produce almost 10 times as much waste as it does right now. Our fashion could basically destroy our world.

Why are we allowing this to happen? Experts blame the rise of what the media calls “Fast Fashion”. This is the concept of producing branded clothing for cheaper and cheaper prices, and then distributing it all over the world. To make the clothing cheaper, manufacturers are using poorer quality materials and producing larger volumes of clothes that don’t last as long – causing more waste every step of the way.


Single-use plastics, fast food and fast fashion all go hand-in-hand. See, there’s a trend of having cheap, fast and discardable items in our society. It’s the same with food, cars – everything. So, we can’t say that fashion is inherently bad.

It’s just that the fashion industry as a whole (like most other industries) jumped on board with the “fast” and “discardable” lifestyle. Where department stores used to have maybe two seasons per year, they now have a minimum of 5 seasonal ranges – sometimes up to 12 or 18!

What’s more, all of this fast fashion is mainly aimed at younger people, especially young women. All those fancy magazines, social media influencers and blogs promoting the latest “must haves” and trends, are fueling the drive to buy cheap things that won’t last, so you’ll just have to buy the new trend next week.

And, sadly, that now translates to children’s fashion too. Think about it: babies and toddlers outgrow their clothes faster than anyone else. Which is why, when you think about what you buy for your child, it might be worth asking yourself: Is it ethical? Will it last? And, if not, how can I try and buy more sustainable children’s clothing instead?

In short, how can I make my fashion choices a little kinder?


Ok, enough doom and gloom. We wouldn’t have told you all of this if we didn’t have a really good point to make. And it’s simply this: The main sustainability problems in the fashion industry are around a) poor quality, b) too much waste and c) pollution due to the scale of the industry.

Sustainable Fashion Industry

And that’s exactly what Kindr is looking to change with our focus on sustainable kids clothing.

At Kindr, we realise that kids grow fast. And you want to dress them beautifully while still making sure you invest in their future – and their home.

That’s why we at Kindr produce high-quality baby and children’s clothing with the least possible impact on the environment. And we’ve devised a system that prevents waste: We let you trade in your “preloved” garments to be cleansed and resold, which gives you credits back to buy your child’s next size in clothing. See how Kindr works.

And, if you’re interested in making a real difference for your child’s future, you can become part of the movement to create a more ethical fashion industry today by signing up to our kids clothing store.

See what’s available to buy right now among our sustainable kids clothing.

Written by Tayara Callista - Kindr Team