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THEFASHION INDUSTRY AND ITS CONTRIBUTION TO POLLUTION Author: Erica Johnson Fashion! We all know it; some of us follow it, and some of us, well, that's a tale for another day. Those few that can follow the trends of fashion change as the trends change. But what happens to all those offcuts of material, and how much does the fashion industry contribute to pollution?
Fashion account for 10% of Carbon dioxide output on earth. Out of 300 million tons of plastic produced annually, the fashion industry is the fifth highest contributor, more than international flights and shipping.
The fashion industry generates 92 million tons of waste annually, so that's extreme textile wastage. Overproducing of items is the number one reason pollution is so high, as Synthetic fibres and the proliferation of micro fibres of earthy waters.
Did you know in America alone, the average person dumps 81.5 pounds of clothes annually? That's 11.3 million tons, plus or minus 85% of all textile that ends in landfills yearly. 20% of wastewater comes from the fashion industry. Dyeing of materials, the finishing of fabric has chemicals that end up in the water used and then disposed of. Twenty thousand litres of water is needed to make a Kilogram of cotton, and that's 2700 litres for one T-Shirt, the same as 900 days of drinking water for one person. Failing to recycle clothes contributes to the 500-billion-dollar loss per year.
This industry is very thirsty (Pun intended) 93 billion cubic meters are used annually. So, 20% of wastewater yearly is produced by this industry planet wide.
Between 5 and 10% of Greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the fashion industry through the production and transport of millions of Garments yearly.
35% of the 190 000 tons of microplastic pollution that is put into our oceans annually is caused by the fashion industry. For example, many online sites provide garments made from material known to have high levels of hazardous chemicals such as Lead, Perfluoroalkyl (otherwise known as PFA) and Phthalates. Environmental damage and people's health can be hazardously affected by these chemicals.
How can the fashion industry reduce textile waste? Circular fashion eliminates waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible. This covers all aspects of the life cycle of a product, from its design and sourcing to its production, transport, storage, marketing, and sale. It ditches the linear "take-make-waste" model and instead asks the industry to close the loop on production, including responsible manufacturing, use, and end-of-life for every garment.
Fashion houses should use recycled and low-impact materials to minimise textile waste. What you can do: Buy less, and only from sustainable brands. Buy quality, recycle your old clothes (swap, rent, or buy second-hand) keep an eye on your washing. Average households in Europe do plus or minus 200 loads of washing yearly, which is 15 000 litres of water. Avoid the use or discharging of Alkylphenol-ethoxylates and non-degradable chemicals. Try pad batch dyeing. So before you go out and buy that branded T-Shirt or tracksuit, please take a minute to think about the impact your fashion choices will have on our planet.