The Fashion Industry vs. The Environment
What the industry is doing to our planet and what we can do to counter balance it?
Most of us are aware of the many ways we can single handedly have a positive effect on our planet, things like recycling, conserving our water usage, using canvas bags instead of plastic bags, utilizing LED light bulbs and the list goes on. But one major thing we don’t really think about is the clothing industry and how much waste and pollution it creates. Did you know the clothing industry is the second-largest polluter in the world, exceeded only by oil. Pesticides, solid waste, toxic dyes and fabric off-cuts are the major contributing factors to the monstrous amount of waste, with unused excess fabric textile scraps being the largest portion of this waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2013, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was produced, of which 12.8 million tons ended up in landfills.
Leading the way with textile waste is the popularity of fast fashion. Fast fashion delivers frequent new collections inspired by catwalk looks or celebrity styles focusing on speed and low cost. Growing pressure to reduce cost and production time ensures that environmental corners will be cut. The negative environmental impact of fast fashion are the use of toxic chemicals, water pollution, and increasing levels of textile waste.
The clothing industry has come a long way from their troubled history from child labor to poor factory conditions. Now the clothing industry faces one of its toughest battles to date. Studies show that 45 percent of millennials said that they could be swayed to purchase products from companies committed to helping the environment. Retailers have taken notice of this shift to be more environmentally conscience and frankly are forced to be more transparent with where their clothing is being produced and what materials are being used. Brands such as H&M Conscious, ASOS Green Room, Loomstate and Reformation are just a few examples of companies focusing on a greener future.
Wondering what you can do to be more fashionable environmentally?
Simple enough is the fabrics you wear. More and more companies are using fabrics that use less water and can be grown without the use of pesticides. Fabrics such as organic bamboo and lyocell fiber are 100% biodegradable, while organic cotton fiber is cotton grown without the use of artificial chemicals such as pesticides. Organic hemp fiber is also grown without the use of pesticides and with minimal water use. Organic linen fiber is made from organically-grown flax plant, and Sasawashi the Japanese fabric is very durable and made from paper and the Kumazasa plant.
You can also make an impact by where you shop. There are tons of ways to resell or donate your clothing. Websites such as Poshmark, Ebay, Craigslist, etc. are great ways to pass along items you might be sick of without them ending up in a landfill, and it puts a little extra cash in your pocket! Donating to consignment stores and thrift stores is another great way to prolong the life of your clothing. Shopping second hand whether online, at thrift stores or consignment is both financially and environmentally positive. It also ensures you won’t be strolling around town in the same thing as ten other people, too. Which is a huge plus in my book! Shopping second hand and donating your used clothing is a great way to be more environmentally conscious.
The environment continues to be on our minds and every change no matter whole small by each of us can have a huge impact on our planet.