A Friendly Reminder: Fashion Industry's Impact on the Environment
Fashion is more than just our everyday clothes. Shoes, bags, makeup, hair products, jewelry, scarves, and a range of ‘wearables’ we use to style ourselves are part of it; recently, face masks have made the list as well. Fashion is a competitive and profitable business, which is why we see so many brands in the market. The top designers in the industry sure know how to deflate our wallets. The glamorous side of the fashion industry dominates, whereas the bigger picture featuring a deteriorating environment is largely ignored. The oil industry is internationally known as the biggest polluter of mother earth; it may come as a shock, but the fashion industry takes second place.
Water Contamination & Depletion
Environment protection agencies worldwide have placed bans on discharge of industrial waste into natural water bodies. While developed countries have managed to restore several contaminated rivers and streams, the third world countries struggle with scarcity of drinkable water. More than 90% of the fashion industry manufacturing takes place in underdeveloped countries, due to cheaper raw material and labor. These countries lack in strict conservation laws and investing in safe disposal of wastewater is a costly endeavor, which is why the problem persists.
The chemicals employed in dyeing and finishing processes are highly toxic, containing elements like lead and arsenic. When they enter water bodies with wastewater, aquatic and human life suffer. About 5 million people die of consuming contaminated water every year.
Cotton crops are the primary raw material of the fashion industry; 8,000 liters of water are used up in yielding just a pound of cotton. Dyeing one ton of fabric requires about 200 tons of water. On average, the fashion industry consumes about 1.5 trillion tons of water per annum.
Contribution to Global Warming
10% of global carbon emissions are generated by the fashion industry. Apart from industrial processes, the transportation of fashion products is also responsible for a substantial amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Some fabrics such as Rayon are made from wood pulp, which encourage cutting down of trees. As trees are known for absorbing greenhouse gases and purifying the air, their removal elevates global warming.
Generation of Solid Waste
Fashion has become very disposable in modern times. Clothes are worn a few times and then tossed into the trash. Many people with high incomes throw away wearables after a single use. The average American family disposes of almost 70lbs of clothes in a year; only 15% of discarded textiles go to recycling facilities and donation centers. Tons of reusable fashion products end up in landfills every day.
Animal Hunting & Poaching
Certain elite fashionistas are obsessed with fashion merchandise manufactured from rare natural species. Real fur coats, garments/accessories made from actual lizard skin, and jewelry manufactured from genuine ivory have a high market value. Unfortunately, the craze for such products has endangered many species, ruined natural habitats, and disturbed the food chain.
When human beings are wounded or battered due to each other’s negligence, they have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit. The human population as a whole is poisoning the earth, but it cannot fight back. Climate change, pandemics, and natural disasters are its way of warning us but we are not making a collaborative effort to combat the issues. Join in the green movement to save the earth and preserve a better life for future generations.
John Adams is a paralegal and environmentalist, who loves to travel, read, and write. His blogs are primarily focused upon estate planning and sustainable living. He believes that everyone can improve their quality of life by incorporating positive thoughts and actions.
Photo Credit: Nathan Purchase