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Curbing Fast Fashion Pollution

Fast fashion has become hugely popular with consumers. But it comes at a high cost to our planet.

Today, nearly two-thirds of all the fibers we wear and use are made from oil. The fashion industry is now responsible for more carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

Fast fashion relies on cheap manufacturing, frequent consumption, and short-lived garment use. This constant cycle of production and disposal is taking a huge toll on our environment. So much so that satellite images have identified a pile of discarded clothing in Chile sent there from Europe, Asia, and America so large, it can be seen from space

In 2018, 17 million tons of textiles were generated in the U.S. As the rate that clothing is produced and discarded increases, only 15% of clothing in the U.S. is recycled or reused, with the rest either incinerated or sent to landfills for disposal.

This same period has seen a significant increase in textile waste, as clothes, many never worn, make their way to landfills. Rebuilding and revitalizing U.S. sustainable fiber production and processing, known as “reshoring,” are key to reversing these trends. 

In addition, over the past several decades, hundreds of thousands of fiber and textile jobs that once sustained communities across America have shifted overseas and harmed American farmers and ranchers in the process. 

To help address this growing challenge, I am working in Congress to find answers to how the fashion industry and federal government can better manage discarded clothing and textile waste. 

We can create climate-smart policies to reduce, repair, rewear, & recycle textiles


  • Incentivize apparel industry to promote reuse, repair, and recycling of textiles

  • Develop “circular economy” policies to drive the apparel industry to reduce natural resource consumption

  • Promote textile reuse and recycling infrastructure 

  • Build public awareness of fast fashion’s environmental impact 

  • Bring textile production back to the USA 

  • Support the use of more sustainable fibers 

  • Expand initiatives across federal agencies to encourage textile sustainability 

In June 2023, Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, and I called on the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro to outline ways the fashion industry and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can better manage discarded clothing and textile waste. The Democratic congresswomen focused on the rise of the so-called “fast fashion” industry as a primary driver of textile waste pollution.

I also spoke on the House floor about the growing threat of the fast fashion industry.

I successfully secured language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 that directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue tracking textile waste and conduct a briefing on their efforts within 90 days of the funding bill’s passage. The language also encourages the EPA to incorporate textiles as a material into subsequent work stemming from the National Recycling Strategy, which aims to help build a circular economy and increase the recycling rate to 50% by 2030.

Click here to learn about the first-ever Congressional Slow Fashion Caucus to curb fast fashion pollution through climate-smart policies. 

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