More than two tonnes of clothing are bought in the UK each minute according to new research.
The study of a thousand people by Oxfam estimates that each week 11 million garments end up in the land fill.
Oxfam have called their findings “staggering” and say we are “turning a blind eye” to climate change.
Oxfam’s Chief Executive Danny Sriskandarajah said: “These staggering facts about fashion’s impact on the planet and the world’s poorest people should make us all think twice before buying something new to wear.
“We are in a climate emergency – we can no longer turn a blind eye to the emissions produced by new clothes or turn our backs on garment workers paid a pittance who are unable to earn their way out of poverty no matter how many hours they work.
“As consumers, it’s in our power to make a real difference. Buying second-hand clothes helps to slow the ferocious fast fashion cycle, giving garments a second lease of life.”
Making clothes is resource intensive: requiring land, water and man power as well as fossil fuels and chemicals. Some of the fibres in clothing can also pollute our oceans and rivers and enter the food chain.
The research found new clothes bought in the UK produce more carbon emissions per minute than driving a car around the world six times. Oxfam also estimates more than half of British adults are not aware that fast fashion is damaging the environment.
Rachel Kelly co-founded the sustainable brand Thought and says “small changes” can make a “big difference”.
Ms Kelly said: “All our clothes are sustainable, our labels are 100% cotton, we’ve changed our plastic bags to biodegradable bags, and we’ve changed all of our glue to a vegan glue. We believe that at each step of the process you can improve and for minimal cost you can make a big difference.
“We believe it makes business sense, we are an independently owned business we’re growing year on year in a really tough market place and we think we’ve made a really good business case for a sustainable lifestyle brand.
“In the last 10 months the consumer knowledge has increased enormously and it seems it’s a cultural moment, a cultural shift in people’s perceptions that they want to shop more sustainably.
“I think businesses will need to have a shift in how they want to produce their ranges and I think the consumer will lead the way by making different choices.”