Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world.
Surprising? Let’s discuss more in detail!
Yes, indeed. It is true that fashion cannot be separated from the word ‘clothing’ which is one of the primary needs for everyone. So that maybe we can understand if the fashion industry is one of the industries that produce the most pollution in the world. However, there are some things that make this fact even more devastating.
Let’s start by discussing pollution in any form produced by the fashion industry.
Based on The World Counts research, since 2015, the fashion industry annually produced approximately 92 million tons of solid waste worldwide (4% of the total solid waste produced throughout the world). Most of the solid waste comes from the waste of textile pieces, clothes packages, and used clothes that has become garbage (exclude your unused clothes in the wardrobe). Even worse, from the total solid waste that produced by the fashion industry, only around 2.5% is recycled each year. The packaging itself has become the second most numerous waste in terms of polluting the oceans with plastic.
Water Waste and Pollution
In the past few years, the fashion industry has also been one of the most water polluting industries. Water pollution from the fashion industry comes from the coloring process and printing of textile materials that contain hazardous chemicals. Moreover, research from Environmental Research Letters says that the fashion industry also consumes 79 billion m³ of water for the process of growing cotton used as the base material for most of the fashion products. 79 billion m³ of water = 2,700 liters of water for a T-shirt = 713 gallons of water = the need of water to drink for one person for two and a half years.
Based on the research from The Guardian, they states that the fashion industry produces as much as 1.715 billion carbon dioxide emissions (4.3% of the total carbon dioxide produced worldwide every year). This comes mostly from the processing of textile materials, where in the present time, producers use more machinery to produce clothing in very large quantities to meet the consumer demands which is increasing very rapidly.
Miserable enough? Not yet!
Based on those research of pollution produced by the fashion industry, it can be concluded that the fashion industry is in the top five industries that produce the most pollution in the world along with the electricity & heat industry, agriculture, road transportation, and the oil & gas industry.
Then what makes it even more miserable? Among those five industries that produced the most pollution, the fashion industry is the only industry that involved the other four industries in carrying out their operations. Most of the basic ingredients for making fashion products comes from agricultural output. Then the fashion industry use the output from the oil & gas industry along with the electricity & heat industry to run its engines. And all the supply processes in the fashion industry are definitely channeled through road transportation.
Then what causes the fashion industry to be that bad in the environment?
Everyone can define the ‘fashion’ word to many connotation. Of course, because fashion is indeed very personal. Fashion is very closely related to clothing, what you wear and how it represents you.
It doesn’t matter whether you really take the time to choose the fashion items that you’ll use today (usually based on references from magazines, fashion blogs, social media, etc). Or you are the type of person who does not care what you’ll look like today and only wears the first clothes you see in the top position of your pilling up wardrobe.
That’s it the point. When you start wearing clothes, no matter what planning process you did before, that’s how fashion works. That’s the process of how fashion represent yourself.
The interesting thing is, these days, fashion isn’t just a tool that could represent someone, fashion is more likely to be a lifestyle. This can happen on the initiation of the “fashion business” so that every new product released can be sold in the market so that they’ll get the maximum profit (exclude the overpriced price standard because these products are used by famous actors/actress)
After entering the ‘fashion as a lifestyle’ phase, this ‘trend’ sentence is actually a threat to the environment. How come, the trend in fashion is what fosters the trait of consumerism in the community so that they continually buy the ‘trendy’ products and let the clothes they just bought a few months ago accumulate untouched, with an outdated argument. Unwittingly, the pile of clothing is produced from a process that produces very much pollution and will later return to pollution in a very short period of time. Those things, just destroying planet earth and killing people moreover.
What can we do as consumers?
As humans, we certainly cannot escape the need for clothing. But there are some things we can do to prevent environmental damage caused by the fashion industry.
Here are some tips from me for you as a fashion product consumer:
- Choosing sustainable fashion products
In choosing clothes that you will buy, try the product you choose is a sustainable product. Sustainable fashion products are products that are environmentally friendly, which in the manufacturing process does not produce too much pollution. For example products made from 100% cotton, not too many motifs that are produced from dangerous chemicals, and do not contain too many non-cotton materials such as zippers, beads, screen printing, etc. So it’s easy to recycle.
- Look for quality instead of quantity
Try to choose clothes of the highest quality so that you can use them for a long period of time instead of having lots of items but not durable and will only become rubbish (or maybe a foot cloth). Expensive? Certainly! After all, the name also invests on quality. At least you can represent yourself with a high quality fashion!
- Versatility is priority
Choose clothes that suit your character and needs and are not trendy clothes that will look outdated when it’s past its time. Make sure the clothes you choose really fit your body, are versatile (can be used in a number of situations), and had a small chance to be outdated whenever you wear them.
Everyone may have a different opinion about the items included in those three points. Back again, everything is based on the needs of each individual personally.
Anyway, it’s all about how you want to represent yourself without needing approval from others.
For me, Fashion has no rules, it only needs ethics.