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Why Pollution by the Fashion Industry is such a Huge Problem


The fast fashion industry is set up to promote rapid bulk production of cheap but trendy clothing; these clothes are shipped to brand stores all over the world within a few weeks after production to be displayed on racks. The designs of major fast fashion brands like Primark, TopShop and Forever 21 can be produced and displayed on shelves in a matter of weeks.


The fast fashion industry’s ability to churn out products so quickly has caused a major shift in consumer behavior. Consumers buy and discard clothing items after just 5-7 wears on average. In 2014, the average Americans purchased 60% more clothing than they did in 2000.


As impressive as it is to produce hundreds of thousands of clothing every week and transport it to hundreds of stores all over the world, it comes at a cost.


The fast fashion industry is the second biggest polluter on the planet. It has been criticized for releasing harmful toxins into the atmosphere including carbon emissions, producing solid waste that clogs landfills, polluting rivers by dumping untreated wastewater into them, running sweatshops and other ethical problems.


Let’s look at some of the ways the fast-fashion industry is polluting the planet:


The Expansion of Landfills



Fast fashion appeals to consumers’ desires for trendy clothing. The clothing produced by fast-fashion brands is of low-quality, it isn’t meant to last. Due to the continuous supply of trendy clothing, millions of tons of clothing are dumped in landfills all over the world. In America alone, around 10.46 million tons of clothing is thrown straight into landfills every year. Contrary to what many consumers think, only about 15-%-20% of clothing is donated to charities, and a large part of that is sold to the second-hand clothing industry.


Water-Intensive Manufacturing


The fashion industry produces hundreds of thousands of clothing every week, without paying attention to the environmental cost of production.


Many of the fabrics used to make our clothes are incredibly water-intensive. Cotton is by the most popular fibers in the industry, almost 40% of clothing produced in the world consists of some type of cotton; producing a single cotton t-shirt requires 2,700 liters of water! Cotton is a very thirsty plant yet it continues to be one of the most demanded fibers in the world.


Excessive Production


The unbelievable amount of clothing produced by the fashion industry is immensely destructive for the environment. The textile industry produces more carbon emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined! From the use of electricity in factories, the amount of heat used up for drying, washing and dyeing the cloth to the carbon emissions released to distribute items all over the world, the fashion industry pollutes at every step.


After decades of abusing the environment without consequences, the fast fashion industry is finally being called out for its negligence. Big brands are taking steps to become more environmentally-friendly and are introducing eco-fashion lines in an attempt to reduce their ecological footprint.


As second-hand clothing traders, Whitehouse & Schapiro collects credential clothing and thrift store excess from around the country and sells it to partners in foreign markets such as Africa, Pakistan, Chile, Japan, and Eastern Europe. Our collective efforts prevent 2.5 million tons of textile waste from clogging landfills year after year.


Drop by our offices in Baltimore or give us a call for more information on our services.


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