Not many are aware that fast fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil. Here are some staggering numbers. More than 100 billion garments are produced across the globe. Surprisingly, not all products are sold. They are disposed off at a hefty discount to third world which is already reeling under discarded textiles. It is estimated that around 60% of clothing end up in landfills, and therefore, the need of the hour is sustainable fashion.
Here are reasons why sustainable fashion matters for the environment in 2023 and in the coming years.
Interestingly, less than 11% of the major brands exploit recycling. Through design and process innovation sustainable brands cut down on the consumption of basic raw materials / natural resources and thereby help slow down environmental degradation. Sustainable clothing through reprocessing of used apparels reduce water and power consumption, helps cut down air and water pollution, and offer a much-needed breather to landfills which are choked to the hilt.
As mentioned in the introduction, clothing line businesses produce large quantities of merchandise to make it commercially viable. In reality, not every piece is sold. In fact, almost 20% remains in various warehouses which is later given away for free or at a throwaway price. Invariably, this leads to unnecessary buying spree and ultimately converts large areas fertile land into dumping grounds. On the other hand, a sustainable fashion brand is inventory and environmental conscious.
The CO2 Impact –
Most apparel buyers around the world are not aware that the fashion industry generates more than 2.1 billion tonnes of carbon emissions each year. If that was not enough, it is also responsible for 4% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable clothing can help bring down these numbers significantly. Moreover, eco-friendly clothing brands exploit organic materials such as cotton which are chemically free and do not exploit fossil fuels, the main culprit for environmental damage.
Resources Conservation –
A sustainable fashion brand on its own can make little impact. However, once sustainability turns into a movement it can prevent land and water pollution significantly. At the very outset, the fashion apparel domain is power and water intensive. At every state of production, clean water is consumed in large quantities and then released back into nature as a dangerous by-product. Here is an astonishing figure – while a pair of jeans consumes thousands of gallons of water, a simple t-shirt contaminates more than 500 gallons of clean water.
Animal Life –
Animal fur and animal skin are rampantly exploited in high-end fashion textiles. Most of the time, animals are hunted and killed for their pricey skin. In fact, it has given birth to a parallel industry of poachers who butcher tigers, and kill crocodiles and several reptile species so that fashion brands can produce exotic clothing. A sustainable clothing brand does not support animal killing except when it is a spin-off of meat manufacturing process.
Marine life –
Garments made from fossil fuels such as oil or chemicals tend to break down or leak microplastics around their dumping area. Some of these particulates, especially those, which are closer to rivers and coastal areas, seep into the sea. The impact of this on marine life is catastrophic. It even affects human who consume sea food as a source of daily diet. Sustainable fashion due to its inherent choice of “Natural” materials reduces micro plastic poisoning of ocean waters, and thereby sustains marine and coral life.
Energy Resources –
Sustainable fashion is not highly energy efficient per se. It demands almost the same energy inputs. Nonetheless, eco-friendly fashion textiles, through its unique set of restrictions and tough production and consumption parameters, guzzle less energy resources over a single manufacturing cycle. This not only conserves precious resources but also reduces burden on supplementary options such as oil and wood.
Fair Labour –
The fashion industry around the globe employs more than 150 million children, directly or indirectly. Ironically, none of these brands are aware of the exploitation which in most of the countries is also illegal. Moreover, the working conditions in some of the production facilities are extremely dangerous, at times responsible for serious health issues. A sustainable clothing brand fights this malpractice through eco-fashion certificates such as GOTS.
Sustainable clothing is not just a fad, or a fictional movement. It actually helps reduce water and power consumption, CO2 emissions, protect man and animals from unfair practices and also shields the planet and its natural resources. So, go eco-friendly, go eco-fashion.
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