Data on eco-friendly fashion in the world

How eco-friendly is fashion? What does the data say?

When international news first started telling us about climate change, we may have been skeptical. But when they showed us pictures of the no-more-snowy peaks, and gave us an estimate of how much the sea level would rise, then the music started to change.

This happens because if we take a glance at data, the information is in clear view, and the extent of the problem can be visualized.

That’s why Comistra’s team has collected some data that can give us a scientific idea of how eco-friendly fashion is going.

We’ll answer some of the most common questions, in a journey through numbers and data mainly taken from this study and some reports by Greenpeace.

The fashion industry

How huge is the fashion industry?
It is estimated that the value of the fashion industry in 2025 will reach $2.1 trillion globally. Purchases have increased by +60% each year and the average lifespan of the single clothing has decreased by -50% between 2004 and 2019.

The first most polluting industry in the world is oil, and we well-know that; the second one is the fashion industry.

Is there a real-life example of the impact of clothes?
The greenhouse gas produced by 1 kg of ordinary t-shirts is 23 kg (average).

So, we are talking about an emission that amounts to more than 20 times the weight of the final product.


Which are the most common fabrics?
63% of textile fibers come from synthetic fibers derived from petroleum, while 24% is reserved for cotton. Considered by many as the most eco-friendly fiber, cotton has several critical issues: the production of 1 kg of cotton requires about 20 thousand liters of water.

How does the production of new clothes pollute the environment?
For several reasons. Scientific data tell us that cotton needs a lot of water, which often leads to desertification. In addition, toxic pesticides are widely used to cultivate it. Dyeing, finishing and printing are also very polluting in terms of emissions. Then there is the waste problem, which makes the fashion industry not sustainable.

Finally, fossil energy is mostly used for spinning, and this produces Co2 and particulates.

Recycling and re-use of fabrics

How much is textile recycling being studied?
According to a study published in the Journal of Cleaning Production, fiber recycling is the most studied type of recycling (57%), followed by polymer/oligomer recycling (37%), monomer recycling (29%), and fabric recycling (14%). Cotton (76%) and polyester (63%) are then the most researched by scholars, in terms of possible recycling. Then we have viscose (25%) and wool (20%).

How many clothes are recycled or reused?

The most eco-friendly examples we have in Europe are Germany, where about 70% of textile waste is destined for reuse and recycling; then there is Denmark, where about 50% is destined for re-use. In Italy, the collection of old clothes that 60% of the total is destined for reuse, and about 38% for recycling.

Now that we have a data-driven portrait, it’s clear that the world of recycling and reuse deserve our full attention. They are cornerstones of an eco-friendly fashion trend.

According to the “Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017” report, if we stick to old habits the fashion industry will increase its impact by 63% by 2030, reaching up to 100 billion a year in waste.

It’s time to actively worry about our impact on our planet.