What a piece of clothing costs us?

Ria Choudhary

22nd November 2020

Chemicals from the textile industry polluting the waste (Source: Fashion2apparel)

The effect of the fashion industry on the environment is devastating. This industry influences the climate in a colossal manner, and it is the second biggest polluter on the planet, with crude oil being the primary promoter of climate change. A vast majority of individuals do not understand that the clothing they wear consists of poisonous synthetics that burns through a significant number of the earth's essential assets, which adds to water contamination, and influences ozone-depletion. Our carbon emission has grown significantly and has only gained momentum. Moreover, the concept of style has a massive influence on the consumer's behaviour.

Keeping in mind that the primary raw material that is used in making clothing is cotton; it acts as a key contributor to damaging the environment. While the fashion industry will keep cotton cultivation alive, there is a downside to the production of cotton: it is exceptionally water-intensive and needs large amounts of water to grow and cultivate the sapling. Due to this dependency on water, cotton requires almost 75 lakh litres of water per hectare. That's roughly 40,000 litres per day. To put that into perspective, it takes four tankers of water every day for its six-month life cycle. That is just the water needed to grow the raw material. But when it comes to making the final product, it can take up to 5,000 tons of water to create one suit, even when organic cotton is used.

When you view the fashion industry, the glamour and style steal the show. But the effect it has on the environment is not lost. With the industry using various materials to create masterpieces, they are indirectly contributing to the pollution that surrounds the world. Materials are traded, and one of the most damaging materials such as polyester is often used. The making of this material is with oil and not water. Around 70 million barrels of oil are utilised every year by material makers to deliver polyester items for the clothes design business, leading to a negative ecological effect. These harmful synthetics staggeringly add to water contamination.

The industry uses plastic for packaging and other uses. This plastic winds up dirtying the seas and jeopardising marine life. Polyester, when washed, sheds little bits of microfibers that build the debris of plastic in the ocean and adds to sea contamination. This plastic is not biodegradable. Marine life winds up eating these little bits of plastic, which cause damage to their bodies, and soon die due to the toxins.

Overall, the fashion industry has a large carbon footprint and emits a massive amount of greenhouse gases. Due to the transportation of material and movement of the fashion community, the estimate for transportation and shipping is about five per cent of global greenhouse gases.

The Fashion industry is an industry that thieves on manual labour and has garment workers who work in sweatshops. These sweatshops are not well maintained and have an unhealthy work environment. These sweatshops are usually founded in third world countries, where labour is cheap.

The fashion business makes around 1.2 trillion dollars every year and 250 billion dollars a year is spent yearly on design creation. Since fashion comes at a high price, the impact of fashion on our current circumstance is high. Without the fashion industry, many people would be unemployed, and there would be a massive difference in the world economy. Even with the environment suffering we must take into account the labourers that depend on a daily wage.

Fast fashion is a concept that is practised around the world and only promotes climate change. But with the glaring facts that are present, some fashion houses and brands have made significant changes in their manufacturing. They have created targets to achieve not just sustainable clothing but also glamorous wear. Some brands such as Levi’s and Marks & Spencer have been front runners in sustainability.

Fashion is a part of our daily life, and it's imperative to understand the impact it shall have on this generation, and more importantly, on the next generation. With innovation and technology always being challenged, we have ways to make the fashion industry a healthy and creative community.

(Sources: The Guardian Lifestyle, Get Green Now, Sustain your style, Sense And Sensibility)

Edited by: Suditi Jha

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