The fashion industry has a catastrophic impact on the environment and the environmental damage is increasing as the industry grows. The pace of change in clothing trends has picked up exponentially in recent years, the bad news is that fast fashion takes a huge toll on the environment.In fact, it is the second largest polluter in the world, just after the oil industry.The fast-fashion business model itself is the very contrary to sustainability. According to a recent study by Betway textile production produced 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year. Many environmentalists believe this model of production and consumption is unsustainable and are calling for a change to the industry.
Greenhouse Gases Emissions
This industry is responsible for high carbon emissions through the greenhouse gases it emits. These gases come from the production and transportation of the billions of pieces of clothing bought each year.That’s equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the entire worldwide aviation industry, or the entire country of Russia!Another contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the fashion industry is the production of synthetic polymers. Synthetic polymers are lightweight and durable, and they make clothes last longer. However, they aren’t found naturally in the world, so they have to be synthetically produced.
Depletes and Pollutes Water Resources
The fashion industry is a huge water consumer. Did you know that it takes 2700 litres of water to make a single cotton t-shirt?Cotton, which is a common material in clothing, needs a lot of water to grow. It’s usually grown in hot regions where water scarcity is already an issue, and cotton farming just compounds the issue.Additionally, A lot of water is also required to manufacture and dye textiles. For example, a ton of dyed fabric can take up to 200 tons of water to produce. To make matters worse, most clothing manufacturing is done in developing countries, where environmental laws may not be so strict. This means that many times, untreated wastewater from factories is dumped directly into rivers or lakes.
Textile Waste Accumulates in Landfills
About 84% of all clothes in the USA ends up in a landfill each year. Nearly all of that clothing could have been recycled, repurposed, or donated instead.When clothes are tossed aside for a new trend, they sit in garbage dumps for decades, and possibly even centuries.Polyester takes 200 years to decompose. Nylon is not much better either, requiring a minimum of 30-40 years. While these materials are decomposing, they’re also releasing microplastics into the soil which can pollute the nearby area.
It Uses Non-Renewable Resources
In addition to emitting harmful greenhouse gases, the fast fashion industry also uses fossil fuels. For example, synthetic polymers are not renewable, and can actually be classified as a type of plastic. They can release microplastics into the water system when they’re put through the washing machine, which pollutes the environment.Making matters worse, the mining of fossil fuels contributes to air pollution and climate change. Plus, as we all know, fossil fuels are not a sustainable resource.