Thorunn Egilsdottir
Corporate Communication Manager
15th July 2022

Fast fashion and how to reduce its environmental impact

Our planet's resources are limited and the textile industry is a major contributor to environmental damage. Jeannette Müller, advisor to the Luxembourg Ministry for Consumer Protection, explains why it is important to act and reveals whether the solution is to consume less.

1. Ms Müller, what is the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry?

According to European studies, the consumption of textiles is the fourth largest cause of environmental impact and climate change on our continent, after food, housing and transport. The textile industry is also the third largest consumer of water. The average European consumer throws away 11 kg of textile material per year. Fast fashion, involving the production of low-quality, low-cost items with a fairly limited lifespan, magnifies the already harmful environmental impact.

2. What about Luxembourg and are there any initiatives to address this?

The Ministry for Consumer Protection has recently supported the development of a study carried out by Caritas on textile flows in Luxembourg. The research was based on bibliographic and statistical data as well as on interviews with the industry’s stakeholders in Luxembourg. It showed that 12,26 kg of clothing and textiles are thrown away per person per year. STATEC data indicate that the proportion of the household budget spent on clothing and footwear in Luxembourg has almost halved over the last 26 years (1993-2019). This research shows that total textile waste generated per capita has increased by 33% in 15 years (between 2003 and 2018). Our hypothesis is that the decrease in the household budget does not reflect a decrease in the quantity consumed but in the quality consumed.

The European Commission has recently presented a new European strategy for sustainable textiles, which aims to tackle the fast fashion phenomenon, in terms of both production and consumption, with measures for product design and consumption.

3. And as a consumer, how can I start to make my textile consumption more sustainable?

In general, we can rethink the need to renew our wardrobe faster and faster. The first thing to do is to be mindful when we buy, especially when it comes to our motives, by asking ourselves the question "Do I really need a new item or is this perhaps an unnecessary or recreational purchase?”. A second lever for action is extending the life cycle of clothing in a general context of changing our consumption habits, trying, for example, to repair or upcycle our clothes. Although there are only a few fledgling initiatives in Luxembourg, upcycling helps to extend the life cycle of clothes. According to the data analysed, only 0,02% of textiles and clothing thrown away per year in Luxembourg are currently being up-cycled. Finally, we can also turn to second-hand clothing shops or initiatives and favour brands with confirmed environmental, social and sustainability claims.

4. How do you know if the claims are reliable?

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact of their purchases and often do not trust statements on labels. On the other hand, they are faced with a jungle of logos and labels certifying different aspects related to production conditions, commodities and fibre processing. It is therefore important, before you buy, to consult the labels critically and obtain more information about the claims, via recognised independent organisations/platforms. New European legislative requirements will soon help to combat greenwashing more effectively. 

5. What are the five tips for turning your back on fast fashion?

5 useful tips: 

1. Be mindful of your buying motives.

2. Think about extending the life of your clothes (repairing or upcycling).

3. Prefer more sustainable and ethical choices.

4. Find out more about the claims being made, via recognised organisations.

5. Read and be critical of labels and advertising.


In short: consume better!

About the blog:


There is an urgent need for rapid transition to global sustainability. Business and industry have enormous social and environmental impacts. "Why does it matter?" is a bi-monthly blog that aims to elucidate this important topic through the eyes of our experts. 

Don't miss out our experts' practical tips for your daily life and be part of the positive change.