Written by Shreya Doris Chattree | Updated: August 21, 2020 2:26:02 pm

“As consumers, we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy.”

– Emma Watson

Fashion: Like every rain starts from a drop, it all started with brands releasing their clothing collection 2 seasons a year, and now we have arrived a time where 52 micro-collections are introduces per year, with Zara putting forward 24 collections and H&M having 12-16 collections per year.

The drop in the price of garments has urged the potential population to buy 5 times more clothes than bought 20 years ago. This implies that 80 billion clothes garments are manufactured each year, and when light is cast over this side of reality, it also shadows a despondency on the fact that each year, an average of 35 kg textile waste is generated per person in the US. Thus, imagine the amount of harm being caused by and caused to the multitudes on this planet.

If we come to face the grimier side of this attractive coin of fashion, trends are changing at such a fast pace that people can’t keep up, leading to a higher proportion of purchases in order to stay up to date. This has encouraged the mass production of cheap and disposable clothing. Where on one hand it makes the customers shopping hastily, and increasing the brand sales, on the other hand, this reduction in production costs happens due to the continuous accumulation of cheap garments, which in the shorter or longer run can take a serious toll on the lives of the garment workers, our health and the health of our planet.

After the statistics of materiality, now let’s open our eyes towards actuality. According to sustainyourstyle.org, the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world, which falls in line right after the oil industry. As the pillars of this industry are growing and increasing, so is the environmental damage. However, one of the solutions mentioned by them to mitigate this problem is to create awareness and willingness among the fashion hoarders to change.

In most of the garment-producing countries, the untreated toxic water coming out from textile factories is dumped directly into the nearby water bodies. This wastewater contains substances like mercury, arsenic, and leads among many others, which is destructively harmful to the people living nearby the rivers, who consume it for their daily purposes, and also for the aquatic creatures. Another injuring source of contamination is the fertilizers used at the time of cotton production, which offers the fear of being evaporated through water and causing damage in the later run.

Thus, as an alternative, sustainyourstyle.org suggests choosing clothes that are manufactured in countries having strict environmental regulations for the factories, for example, Canada and the US. Another solution could be to choose organic fibers that do not require chemicals in order to be produced.

Textile Industry, One of the Causes of Water Pollution

This site can be visited for a more detailed analysis on the pollution caused by fashion industries.

Fashion – Affects the environment

  • Synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, etc. used in the making of a majority of clothing are made from fossil fuel. This not only makes production much more energy intensive, but also accounts for 10% of global emission of carbon.
  • 5.2% of the waste in our landfills comprise of textiles, and can take up to 200 years to decompose.
  • In the words of James Conca from FORBES: ” Cheap synthetic fibres also emit gases like N2O, which is 300 times more damaging than CO2.”

Therefore, with many people not realizing that all that glitters is not gold and the apparel which attracts also harms by being made of toxic chemicals, affecting greenhouse gas emissions, causing water pollution and consuming many of earth’s natural resources, it can be concluded that the environmental influence of the fashion industry is crippling. (Westling, n.d.)

Also read, 5 Tips for Sustainable Shopping: Save Earth, Save Money