Fashion is one of the most polluting and water consuming industries in the world...
The apparel & textile industry accounts for nearly 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The World Bank estimates nearly 20% of wastewater globally comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles, making fabric, growing resources, and washing garments repeatedly. The waste produced at every stage of a garment's lifecycle is alarming. Americans alone produced 15.1 million tons of textile waste in 2013, and around 85% of that ended up in landfills, according to the EPA. Luckily, fashion is one of the few industries where educating consumers can make a world of difference. If each person stopped shopping fast fashion and instead recycled by passing on and reusing their garments pollution would be reduced drastically.
- The production of jeans alone in the United States uses over 400 billion gallons of water.
- The production of one cotton t-shirt uses 700 gallons of water.
- In the developing world, where the majority of our manufacturing takes place, factories and textile mills are located directly along or close by waterways such as rivers and canals. These factories use 1.5 billion cubic metres of freshwater each year.
- The textile dyeing sector in China alone has been reported to produce and discharge roughly 40% of chemicals worldwide.
- Cotton production consumes 11% of the world's pesticides and 24% of the world's insecticides.
- Industrial farming and their use of pesticides greatly reduces biodiversity, encourages deforestation, and leaves the population in the areas surrounding the farms with ailments caused by the ingestion of over 2,000 cancer causing chemicals released during textile production.
- The creation of petroleum based fabrics (acrylic, polyester, nylon) emits VOCs and Nitrous Oxide which is nearly 300 times more powerful than CO2 in its effect on the environment.
- Manufacturing 1 ton of polyester consumes up to 127,000 megajoules. In 2010, 64 billion pounds of polyester were produced, using enough energy to power 93 million US homes for a year.
Unfortunately, the amount of research on the Fashion Industry’s impact on climate change is sparse. Scientists have only recently begun their studies at the request of major brands such as Levi's, H&M, Eileen Fisher, Stella McCartney and more. For more information on the industry's impact and what brands are doing to make a change, please refer to the following sources: