Much of what we call fast fashion took eons to reach us.
Let’s say you buy a new frock. It’s made from polyester, a plastic derived from petroleum.
That petroleum is a hydrocarbon, formed from minerals and marine animals, chemically-transformed over millions of years. (1)
Most petroleum deposits are found in rocks from the Mesozoic era, approximately 250 – 65 million years ago. (2)
The world produced 288 million tonnes of plastic in 2012. (3) Of this plastic, 99.9% is from non-renewable resources. (4)
So treat your frock with reverence. Although transformed beyond all recognition, it’s made from a substance as old as the dinosaurs.
And unless it’s recycled, it will probably outlive you as well.
References / further reading:
1. Tainter, Joseph and Tadeusz Patzek. 2012. Drilling down. New York: Springer Science + Business.
2. Gluyas, John and Swarbrick, Richard. 2004. Petroleum Geoscience. Oxford: Blackwell. p. 5-7; Dept. Geology and Geography, West Virginia University, http://pages.geo.wvu.edu/~kammer/g3/16.pdf. Accessed 14 December 2013.
3. Plastics Europe. 2013. “Plastics – the Facts 2013: An analysis of European latest plastics production, demand and waste data”. http://www.plasticseurope.org/Document/plastics-the-facts-2013.aspx?FolID=2. Accessed 14 December 2013.
4. Patel, Martin and Nitin Mutha. 2004. “Plastics production and energy.” In Encyclopedia of Energy, Volume 1 – 6, edited by Cutler J. Cleveland, 81-92. Amsterdam and Boston: Elsevier.