Fast Fashion and Its Impact on Our Planet
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world after the oil industry and as industry grows, so does the environmental damage.
We as a society became really aware of how the food affects our health but we do not think about the toxicity of our clothes. Cheap and disposable textile production has grown by 400% in the last decade and it has a disastrous impact on the environment.
So, let’s take a look at a fast fashion. The fashion industry, in fact, is the second largest polluter in the world, just after the oil industry. And the environmental damage is increasing as the industry grows. While trying to keep up with the newest trends people keep buying more and more clothes. It has become a challenge to wear a garment more than 5 times and many people believe that it is not ok to wear a garment more than once.
WHY? Who said that wearing the dress to an event for a second time people will notice and it’s embarrassing? I heard it from so many women and I never understood who created this nonsense and why women believe this to be the truth. This is the biggest scam that people buy into because now they are buying more and more clothes and filling their closets with synthetic, plastic and toxic clothing that are only being worn few times. Our skin is our body's largest organ and absorbs anything we put on it, including chemicals in our clothes.
For the industry, cheaper, faster, higher volume has been a great success. Today it is a $3 trillion industry reaching the most profitable moment in history. However, if nothing changes, the negative impacts created by fashion industry can be a true disaster by 2050.
The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. A new survey found that the average American will toss out 81 pounds of clothing this year. That amounts to 26 billion pounds of textiles and clothes ending up in landfills where it stays and pollutes the ground and water. Think about this, one garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfills every second! We became like robots, consuming more and more without even thinking of how our purchases affect our nature, our oceans and our future generations.
In most countries in which garments are produced, untreated toxic wastewaters from textiles factories are dumped directly into the rivers. Nearly 20% of global waste water is produced by the fashion industry. Waste water contains many toxic substances such as lead, mercury, arsenic and many others which are extremely harmful for the aquatic life. The heavy use of chemicals in cotton farming is causing diseases and massive freshwater and ocean water pollution.
THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS A MAJOR WATER CONSUMER
Huge quantity of fresh water is used for the dyeing and finishing process for all of our clothes. For example, it can take up to 200 tons of fresh water per ton of dyed fabric. It takes more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just one T-shirt and a pair of jeans. Just to produce 1 kg of cotton, up to 20,000 liters of water are needed.
SYNTHETIC GARMENTS AND CHEMICALS
Chemicals are one of the main components in our clothes. They are used during fiber production, dyeing, bleaching, and wet processing even though they are toxic, bio-accumulative, disruptive to hormones and carcinogenic. Polyester is the most popular fabric that is used in fashion. Every time we wash a synthetic garment (polyester, nylon, acrylic) about 1900 individual microfibers shed into the water supply threatening marine wildlife and introducing plastic in our food chain. Synthetic fibers are a type of plastic, made from petroleum and they are non-biodegradable. They take more than 200 years to decompose. By the way, synthetic fibers are used in the 72% of our clothing.
LOSS OF FORESTS AND HEALTHY SOIL
Every year, thousands of hectares of endangered and ancient forests are cut down and replaced by plantations of trees used to make wood-based fabrics such as rayon, viscose, and modal. Such loss of many trees and entire forests is threatening our ecosystem and indigenous communities.
As we can see, fast fashion is a serious environmental threat to our beautiful Planet. We must absolutely change the way clothes are designed, sold and consumed. We are only guests on this Planet and we are all responsible. Taking away from our planet equals taking away from our future. It is time for people to awaken and understand that each one of us can make a difference. So next time when you go shopping, think carefully if you really need to buy that many clothes just because they are on sale? Look at the label and the composition of the material. I guarantee that most people are buying polyester right and left without even thinking.
What you put inside your body is as important as what you put on your body. Your skin will love natural fabrics much better than any synthetics. Having awareness allows you to make smarter decisions. We all can contribute to the good of the Planet on the individual level. Buying less, higher quality and always recycling or donating any clothes that you don’t wear anymore can make a huge difference. Our clothing can either continue to be a major part of the problem or it can become an enormous part of getting our planet back to balance.
Jurate Luckaite – Fashion Expert, Designer, Entrepreneur, Speaker