Plastic Planet is a series on the global plastics crisis that evaluates the environmental and human costs and considers possible solutions to this devastating man-made problem.
Every year, the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing, sending massive amounts of textiles to landfills or incinerators and contributing to the emission of hazardous greenhouse gases, which speeds up climate change. There’s no question that the rise of fast fashion and the ever-increasing rate at which consumers are discarding clothes has contributed to fashion’s serious environmental problem. The industry is currently the second largest polluter in the world, after fossil fuels. And while companies and consumers are increasingly doing more work to recycle garments and keep clothes out of landfills, only part of the issue is being addressed.
The impact of synthetic microfibers is not often discussed, which is a plastic pollutant that most of our clothes release through wash and wear.