Since 2000, clothing purchases have doubled. Fast fashion is cheap, worn briefly, then discarded, leaving behind mountains of used clothing. Producers and retailers promise sustainability and recycling, but how honest are they with their customers? The truth is that less than 1% new clothing is made from recycled clothing.

70% of all new fashion is made with synthetic fibres. Similar to plastic, these fibres are produced with crude oil and are very difficult to recycle.

Over 120 billion garments per year are produced worldwide, and the mountains of textile waste are growing accordingly. The fast fashion industry is responsible for a significant part of this. Where they once brought out four collections a year, cheap clothing chains now create up to 52 micro-collections annually.

Fast fashion retailers promise their customers they will treat the used clothing sustainably, touting their recycling system. But the giant mounds of worn clothing are too much for second-hand traders to handle. The clothes end up being used as fuel to heat people’s homes. Political measures are needed to tackle the flood of toxic textile waste.

This Deutsche Welle documentary is just over 28 minutes.