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“Buying less – is it enough?” Sustainable fashion and environmental risks

Fashion is changing, various shopping occasions are coming up, and we are constantly buying new clothes. Is this statement still valid? The latest information about the huge environmental impact of the fashion industry can surprise many consumers, and is a motivation for more sustainable development of the sector. Is the production of clothes actually destroying the environment?

What is “slow fashion”?

In recent years, the global fashion industry has witnessed a paradigm shift towards more sustainable development, and the Polish market is no exception. Consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of their choices and society, there is a growing demand for sustainable fashion. It is a part of the evolving design philosophy and sustainability trends, and its aim is to create a system that could be endlessly supported in terms of environmentalism and social responsibility. Fashion that actively reduces or eliminates its negative impact on the lives of people, animals and the planet. The idea of sustainability touches many aspects and is implemented on many levels. So what is its development in Poland and what steps are being taken by Polish consumers to create a greener and more ethical fashion landscape?

The rise in popularity of fast fashion, or the problem of the modern clothing industry

Fast fashion, a significant feature of the modern garment industry, refers to the rapid production and consumption of inexpensive garments, often characterisedcharacterized by rapidly changing trends and very low production costs. Although it revolutionisedrevolutionized access to fashionable clothes, its consequences are profound and multi-faceted. The rapid pace of production of clothes leads to a large rotation of styles, contributing to excessive waste and pollution. Relying on cheap labour and labour-intensive practices often leads to lower working conditions in factories and environmental degradation, including water pollution and excessive greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the discard culture promoted by fast fashion encourages excessive consumption and reduces the value of garments, undermining sustainability and industry ethics efforts.

The problem of environmental pollution

Dr. Edyta Łaskawiec, a water and wastewater technologist, points out, “Currently, more than 2,500 chemicals are used in the production of fabrics and clothing, including dyes, acids, alkalis, flame retardants, radioprotectants or antifungal and antibacterial substances. The United Nations lists the fashion industry as the second most polluting of all industries – accounting for 8% of global anthropogenic dioxide emissions and producing as much as 20% of all industrial wastewater. Approximately 5 trillion liters of water are used worldwide annually for fabric dyeing alone.”

Sources: Ellen Macarthur Foundation. (2017). A New Textiles Economy. & EEA Europa. (2016). “Luft und schiffsverkehr im Fokus”., [5]

Another problem associated with the textile industry is microplastics, as it is plastic fibers that contribute significantly to water pollution. Synthetic microfibers made of non-biodegradable polymers include not only polyester, but also nylon, artificial silk, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), acrylic, and spandex. Studies show that fish that consumed microfiber in their bodies had elevated concentrations of endocrine disruptors, as well as liver damage.

Dr inż. Edyta Łaskawiec

Clothing consumerism in Poland

Consumerism in the field of clothing is a noteworthy phenomenon in Poland, as evidenced by convincing statistics. Over the last decade, the consumption of clothing in Poland has increased significantly, and according to the latest data, Polish consumers buy an average of 15 kilograms of clothing per capita per year. This influx of clothing purchases points to a single-useculture where the fascination with fast fashion has led to for the permanent marketing of clothing articles. Unfortunately, this trend also contributes to the environmental impact of the fashion industry, and a significant proportion of this garment ends up in landfills. As awareness of the environmental impact of this consumption pattern grows, there is a growing interest in sustainable alternatives such as second-hand shopping, local and ethically produced fashion and clothing rental. These statistics serve as a call to action, encouraging change towards more conscious and conscientious habits when it comes to clothing consumption in Poland.

Growing awareness and demand

The Polish fashion industry, like many others, saw the urgent need for change. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of fast fashion, as well as the working conditions in the industry. This increased awareness has led to an increase in demand for sustainable and ethical clothing. An Extraordinary Change is taking place on the Polish fashionscene and local designers and brands take the lead in sustainability. These pioneers not only design aesthetic garments, but also place emphasis on materials that are environmentally friendly, ethical manufacturing processes and fair working practices. By advocating sustainable fashion, they pave the way for a more conscious and responsible industry.

Innovative materials and production techniques

One of the pillars of sustainable fashion is the use of innovative materials and production techniques. In Poland, many brands focus on developing environmentally friendly fabrics such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and even innovative alternatives such as mushroom leather and pineapple fibre fabrics. These materials not only reduce the environmental impact of fashion production, but also promote resource efficiency.

Ecological fashion movement in Poland is developed mainly thanks to broadly understood cooperation. Variousstakeholders, including designers, manufacturers, consumers and governments, are joining forces to drive change. Fashion weeks, seminars and workshops focusing on sustainable development have become platforms for knowledge sharing and awareness raising in this sphere. In addition, collaboration between academia and industry fosters research and innovation to create a more sustainable fashion ecosystem. An Excellent Example of this is the scientific work written by Magdalena Popowska and Aleksandra Sinkiewicz “SustainableFashion in Poland – Too early or Too Late?”, which thoroughly penetrated and describe all aspects related to eco-fashion in relation to to the Polish market.

Challenges and opportunities

Progress is visible, but challenges remain. One of the major hurdles is the misconception that sustainable fashion is synonymous with higher costs. Educating Consumers about the long-term benefits of investing in high-quality, ethically produced garments can help address this problem. In addition, creating a circular economy through recycling initiatives

and upcycling can solve the problem of textile waste. The Polish government is also taking measures to support slow fashion. Policy frameworks and solutions to encourage sustainable practices throughout the fashion supply chain are discussed. By Introducing the principles of sustainable development into the legal and regulatory environment, Poland strives to create an environment conducive to the development of sustainable fashion companies.


The sustainable fashion movement inPoland is gaining momentum, driven by a growing awareness of ecological and ethical issues in the fashion industry. Localdesigners, brands and diverse stakeholders work together to redefine the garment industry in our country. With innovative materials, ethical manufacturing practices and increased consumer education Poland Proves that it is neither too early nor too late to adopt sustainable fashion and pave the way for a more responsible and conscious industry. Second-hand clothing stores, once overlooked, foundthemselves in the spotlight due to their growing popularity in recent years. They offer a fresh look at sustainable fashion, extending the lifespan of clothing and promoting a circular economy. As awareness increases, consumers become more informed about the environmental impact of fashion, and second-hand stores offer a viable solution that is consistent with ethical consumption. In addition to the charm of affordability, the attractiveness of unique and antique items, often found in these stores, adds a layer of individuality to your own style. The emergence of online platforms further fuels this trend, making beloved fashion available to a global audience. Second-hand shops not only offer a wealth of fashion products, but also contribute significantly to reducing textile waste and promoting a more responsible approach to clothing consumption. So it remains only to wait for more and more innovations and solutions in this field and to observe their impact on the environment and other levels.


  1. “Sustainable Fashion in Poland – Too Early or Too Late?” M. Popowska; A. Sinkiewicz
  2. “Earth to Fashion” Vogue magazine; May 2007 issue
  3. “Fashion and Planet. How does fast fashion destroy the environment?” G. Latos URL: https://m. ekonsument. pl/a67298_moda_i_planeta
  4. Lexicon of responsible fashion URL:
  5. „The environmental impact of the fast fashion industry”, SANVT Journal,, accessed on: 29.08.2023
Olga Brzezińska
Studentka prawa na Wydziale Prawa i Administracji Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. Doświadczenie redakcyjne oraz literackie zdobywałam poprzez udział w licznych konkursach literackich oraz polonistycznych, których bywałam również laureatką
Edyta Łaskawiec
I am a water and wastewater technologist, a specialist in circular economy, and science communicator
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Olga Brzezińska

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