Setting a trend and influencing consumers following the trends in fashion is the new fashion trend. This makes fast fashion a profitable and lucrative business. It is observed consumers have started buying 60% more clothes today than they did just 20 years before. This behavior change is the result of advanced marketing campaigns, low clothing prices, and chip quality. It is heartbreaking to see the focus on cutting costs within the manufacturing cycle of the textile industry lead to compromising on quality and rising unethical practices. Here are four unethical practices of fast fashion that are impacting climate change.
Landfill of Textile Waste:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2018, 11.3 million tons of textiles were sent to landfills. There is significant waste in the production of clothing as well. As we said, in India, more than 1 million tones of textiles are thrown away every year, with most of this coming from household sources, according to the Indian Textile Journal. Textiles make up about 3% of the weight of a household bin. Textile waste is also the third-largest source of municipal solid waste in India.
The Union Minister for Textiles, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani launched Project SU.RE, a move towards sustainable fashion, at Lakme Fashion Winter/Festive 2019, in Mumbai on 22nd August 2019. I’m sure most of us are unaware of this initiative. The demand for fast fashion is always increasing and the market is fulfilling the needs by any means. The point is, that the awareness of stats from the consumers else it is hard to manage. Coming back to the environmental effect on garments landfills, often these landfills end up in the sea bed polluting see water and marine life. During the decomposition, it emits greenhouse gases too. We are going to talk about it in a bit.
CLEAN WATER POLLUTION:
The textile industry is water-consuming. During the production process, it consumes a huge amount of water and contaminates an unbelievable amount of freshwater. Textile industry labors are cheaper in developing countries like India and Bangladesh and this sector is not very organized. Due to very low regulation or no regulation, most of the time dying and coloring, and raw material processing are outsourced. This saves a lot of money for the industry and buyers but the people who work for it ultimately pay a high cost in polluting water and air. According to the World Resources Institute, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt. It is not just that they pollute water and air even their working conditions are very poor and they are exposed to toxic materials during the process. Government has to intervene and set up regulations and try and organic these sectors. And at the same time customers has to be more aware of how their clothes are made.
PRODUCES GREENHOUSE GASES:
When we throw away clothing in the garbage, it takes more than 200 years to decompose. During the decomposition process, it generates greenhouse methane gas and leaches toxic chemicals and dyes into the groundwater and our soil. The fashion industry is responsible for the 10% of the annual global carbon emissions. If fast fashion continues to generate waste at this pace then fast fashion will contribute 50% more greenhouse gas emission by 2030.
The dizzying pace of clothing manufacturing has also accelerated consumption. The average person today buys 60 % more clothing compare to the year 2000. And it leads to discarding more clothing as well. Using sustainable materials, and reusing discarded garments to make other usable products. This action will reduce waste generation and it will reduce pollution as well.
It is estimated that about 75 million people work in the textile industry worldwide. And it is known from the various sources that only 2% of these workers are paid fair wages. This leads to poor working conditions and it is directly linked to environmental contamination. And Environmental contamination is directly linked to climate change. As a country, we cannot protect our citizens who all are working in the same poor conditions and violation of all possible human rights. How do we expect the same country will protect nature!!!
Textile companies with poor working conditions are feeding into a system that prioritizes immediate profit instead of sustainable economic growth and responsible stewardship. This needs to be stopped.
What we can do to control this?
It is impossible to change the industry in a day. However, consumers have the power to bring this change in a possible shorter time by reducing their contribution and choosing only ethical and sustainable brands. There are many companies which transparent supply chains starving to create sustainable clothing. Shopping secondhand is another way that consumers can avoid fast fashion and the harm that it brings to Earth’s climate.