Who would have thought that behind all the expensive clothes and the flashing camera lights, the fashion industry was hiding a dirty secret? The illustrious fashion industry that embodies class, art and everything else that’s glamorous is in fact the second biggest polluter of the planet!
The oil industry has been given flak for its devastating impact on the environment but the fashion industry has remained under the radar. Until a few years back, no one really knew of all the damage the fashion industry was doing.
Over the last few years, the fashion industry made headlines for the exploitation of natural resources, its carbon emissions and for the tons of textile waste that was being dumped in landfills across the globe.
Let’s take a look at how the fashion industry became the second biggest polluter on Earth.
Cotton may be the most functional fabric but it also requires large amounts of water to grow. A single cotton t-shirt and a pair of jeans require 2,700 and 7,000 liters of water to grow!
With all the water shortage in the world today, take a moment to think of how much water could have been saved if it weren’t used up to produce vast quantities of cotton.
Bear in mind that most cotton comes from developing nations that already struggle to provide their people with clean sources of water.
Clothing gets its pretty colors through chemical dyes. Textile factories in developing countries are lined on river shores to enable easy disposal of chemical wastage. Because there is no framework for proper disposal of chemical waste, it’s simply released into rivers with no treatment whatsoever!
Some rivers are said to be so polluted with mercury, lead and other toxins that their water can actually be fatal upon ingestion.
Around 22 billion new items of clothing enter the USA every year. Out of the billions worth of clothing items that are sold in the country every year, only 2.2% are actually made locally; the rest comes from different parts of the world.
An overwhelming majority of fast-fashion clothes are made in developing nations in Asia such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines and Vietnam. These countries usually do not have all the raw materials needed to manufacture clothes; the raw materials come from China.
By the time the clothes reach the USA, they have been around to many other countries and each time they are shipped, they release a whole lot of carbon dioxide into the air.
Much of modern clothing is made out of synthetic fibers that can take over two centuries to decompose. The clothes that are dumped into landfills just sit there and will remain there for over 200 years!
Unless the fast-fashion industry enforces adequate disposal methods, it will continue to clog landfills for centuries and at the rate consumers are purchasing clothes, we can expect landfills to breach into cities very soon!
To prevent the expansion of landfills, it’s essential for consumers to shop less and extend the lifecycle of clothes.
Whitehouse & Shapiro are leaders in the second-hand clothing industry. We purchase donated used-clothes and used-shoes from around the country and ship it foreign markets. We’re proud to say that we prevent 2.5 million tons of textile waste from clogging landfills every year.
Get in touch with us to learn how you can join us in protecting the environment or visit us in our Baltimore, Maryland.