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How the Fashion industry affects your carbon footprint

With this new year, Fashion bought something new to the scene too: Circular fashion. It kicked out the old idea of conspicuous fashion and brought many newer, greener options to the table. And no, the term does not refer to round silhouettes or patterns but to extending the lifecycle of well-made garments and recycling all materials to make new items.This trend has garnered much traction as both the consumers and designers are becoming increasingly aware of the outsize toll that linear clothing production takes upon the environment. Fashion’s carbon impact has become much larger than the industry’s GDP and has started taking up more than a large impact on the planet.

The biggest problem this industry faces right now is Fast Fashion and the business of turning around new collections often at extremely low prices to encourage consumption. It has proven to be toxic to the environment. The linear system uses large quantities of nonrenewable resources and most of these styles get tossed within a year.

Clothes can have a major impact on the planet. This is how fashion is affecting the world right now:

Landfill: The committee says people are buying twice as many items of clothing as they did a decade ago. As a result, all the discarded clothes are piling up in landfill sites - 235m items of clothing were sent to landfill last year according to reports

Carbon emissions: Around 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions are caused by the fashion industry.

Wasting water: If you use a washing machine, the toll it takes on our clothes is a lot. For example, 3781 litres are used to wash a pair of jeans over its lifetime.

Fibres released in the wash: Around 700,000 fibres are released into the water during a domestic wash, which then ends up flowing into the sea and then fish eat these synthetic fibres.

In 2015, textile production alone contributed to more carbon dioxide emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. For example, making one pair of jeans is said to produce as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles.

Production of Fashion

This happens due to the materials used in the production process.

If you look at the water-intensive crop cotton, for example, it takes 2,700 litres of water to make a single cotton shirt. This is enough for the average person to live on for two-and-a-half years. Worse are synthetic fabrics like polyester, spandex, and nylon, which use nearly 342 million barrels of oil.

Domestic washing

What’s more is that washing this clothing sends as many as 500,000 tons of microplastics into the ocean every year. That's considered to be about the equal of 50 billion plastic bottles. Overall, microplastics are estimated to compose up to 31 per cent of plastic pollution in the oceans.

Another popular fabric that is used is viscose. It’s a silky material that comes from fibres derived from wood pulp using extremely non-eco friendly and chemically intensive production methods. As much as 70% of the wood harvested is estimated to be wasted while the other 30% ends up in the garments that we wear.

Textiles and Dyes

For making and dyeing textiles, it involves the use of toxic chemicals which are often being dumped into lakes, streams, rivers, and ditches and end up poisoning local communities. Garment manufacturing is responsible for almost 20% of all industrial water pollution around the globe. It ranks as the world's second-largest polluter of water.


Published by: Ryan Williams/ 2020-02-25

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