The environmental impact of the fashion industry

In recent decades, the fashion industry has been overtaken by a new business concept – fast fashion. While on the surface level, this seems to be making clothing more affordable, when you dig deeper, you discover that the reason why clothes are becoming so cheap is a complete disregard for the environment and people in the supply chains.

In this article, we’ll dive into the former – how is the fashion industry of today impacting the environment?

The environmental impact of the fashion industry

Water consumption & pollution

Fast fashion is a thirsty industry. It takes around 20,000 litres of water to produce a single pair of jeans – this includes the water necessary to create the fabric, the dyeing process and any other finishing processes at the factory.

Aside from wasting water, fast fashion is also polluting it with pesticides and other chemicals from farms, as well as toxic dyes from factories. In countries where fast fashion is produced, there is usually little environmental regulation, which intensifies the issue.

This high level of water pollution is not only impacting the environment but also the people working in the supply chains and local communities.

Waste generation

Fashion is also wasteful. Roughly 92 million pounds of textile waste are produced every year, which equals to one garbage truck of clothing being dumped into a landfill every second!

First, there’s the production waste – fabrics thrown away due to inefficient patternmaking or excess stock. Next, there are also the unsold garments from stores, which are usually shredded or burnt by fast fashion brands.

However, since fast fashion encourages us to keep buying more, discarding clothing quickly and buying new pieces, there are also increasing amounts of post-consumer waste ending up in a landfill.

Carbon footprint

The fashion industry is responsible for roughly 10% of all world’s carbon emissions! Some emissions come from transporting garments across half the world – from the countries where they’re made to the countries where they’re sold.

However, the largest contributor to fashion’s carbon footprint is its massive energy usage – especially since the countries of production rely mainly on non-renewable energy sources. Additionally, we also can’t forget about the high emissions of manufacturing of animal materials such as leather or wool.

The environmental impact of the fashion industry

Is there a solution?

How can the fashion industry stop having such a negative environmental impact?

Well, at Rewinder we are convinced that it is possible and in fact, we work for it. We totally believe in the power of people, in their decision-making capacity is the possibility of generating change and significantly reducing all these adverse effects that the fashion industry generates on the natural and social environment that surrounds it.

We need to reduce production, go back to durable clothing that we can wear for years.

Reuse, rethink, recycle are the way to extend the use of our garments and reduce wasteful consumption.

Apart from that, companies in the sector have to implement resource-saving solutions, such as water recycling, the use of green energy and the circular economy.

 

If you want to know more information about how companies can do more to reduce their environmental impact, we suggest you read this too.