If you can change the way people dress, I truly believe you can change the way they think.

Popular fashion labels are cheaper and more widely available than ever before. Around the world, people consume some 80 billion new pieces of clothing each year, 400 percent more than two decades ago.

As one of the key industries to benefit from globalization, fashion is now a US$3 trillion industry. It employs more than 100 million people around the world and accounts for about 2 percent of global GDP. The bridal wear industry alone is valued at some US$57 billion. But the industry, which is already associated with labor exploitation issues, is also trashing the environment.

Fashion, which is dominated by a handful of international conglomerates, has become the world’s second biggest polluter with serious problems across the supply chain, including pollution, water consumption, energy and land use, and wastage, not to mention the problems caused by hazardous chemicals.

Today’s guest

Christina Dean is the founder and chair of Redress, an NGO based in Hong Kong.

For 10 years, Christina has been developing novel approaches to reduce waste in the fashion industry, including its annual high-end fashion awards focused on sustainable designs.

The organization has just released a new book, “Dress [with] Sense,” and will later this year launch its own a new up-cycled fashion brand, B Y T.

You can read more about Christina at the Redress website and follow the organization on Twitter.

Fast facts about 'fast fashion'

  • People consume 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. This is 400 percent more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago.
  • The fashion and textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, second only to oil.
  • Twenty percent of freshwater pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing.
  • The cultivation of cotton relies on heavy consumption of freshwater. The global average water footprint for one kg of cotton is 10,000 to 20,000 liters depending on where it is grown.
  • One trillion kilowatt hours are used every year by the global textile industry, which is equal to 10 percent of the total carbon impact.
  • Around 1.2 billion pairs of jeans are produced each year. It is estimated that a total of 3.5 trillion liters of water is used during its cotton production, fabric production, dyeing, and garment manufacturing.
  • Cotton, which makes up 48 percent of textile production, is responsible for the use of 24 percent of global insecticides and 11 percent of all pesticides, more than any other single crop.

(For a list of sources see here).

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Editor: Olivia Yang