How your clothing “journeys” disrupt the environment
We’ve all seen it on our social media feeds at some point – “transport” videos, where people post about their new fashion purchases. While clothes are generally amazing, fast fashion comes at a high environmental cost.
Fashion and environment
According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the fashion industry produces 10% of all of humanity’s carbon emissions. It is the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply.
Fashion production dries up water sources and pollutes rivers and streams. Washing certain types of clothing also sends thousands of pieces of plastic into the ocean. To be exact, 500,000 tonnes of microfibers are released into the ocean every year. That’s the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.
Many of these fibers are polyester, which is found in 60% of clothing. Not only does polyester production release two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton, polyester does not break down in the ocean.
When it comes to water, the fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water in the world and causes many water pollution problems.
The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution in the world.
What happens to clothes that are not in use?
First of all, we need to get an idea of the amount of clothing produced. In Europe, fashion companies have gone from an average offering of two collections per year in 2000 to five in 2011. Zara offers around 24 collections per year and H&M offers between 12 and 16.
It’s a lot, isn’t it? It’s a shame because most of these clothes end up in the landfill. The equivalent of a garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second.
In total, up to 85% of textiles are landfilled each year. To give you a rough idea, this is enough to fill Sydney Harbor every year.
What does this have to do with me?
Well, if you are shopping for clothes (especially inexpensive items from “fast” fashion retailers, such as Shein), it has everything to do with you.
On average, people bought 60% more clothes in 2014 than in 2000. In total, 85% of all textiles go to landfill each year.
If the fashion industry continues on its current trajectory, this share of the carbon budget could increase to 26% by 2050, according to a 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
So what can I do to help the situation?
For starters, you can get the most out of your clothes. Don’t just throw it away after a few uses, when it’s no longer a trend. You can also donate it to those who need it (but make sure the clothes are still in good condition).