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Fast Fashion's Environmental Footprint

Excessive Water Usage: Time to Conserve

The fashion industry consumes a staggering amount of water – one-tenth of all industrial water use globally. To put this in perspective, it takes a whopping 10,000 liters of water to produce just one kilogram of cotton or around 3,000 liters for a single cotton shirt.


What's more, textile dyeing involves toxic chemicals that ultimately end up in our oceans. Roughly 20% of global wastewater is attributed to this process, accumulating over time. As many factories have moved to countries with lax environmental regulations, untreated toxic wastewater flows into the oceans, causing severe pollution. It's a pressing issue that requires our attention.


Plastic Microfibers: A Menace to Our Oceans

Synthetic materials are the main culprits behind plastic microfibers in our oceans, accounting for about 35% of all microplastics. To reduce costs, producers often turn to low-quality materials. Polyester, a commonly used synthetic fiber, emits more carbon than cotton.


These microfibers take a long time to break down in the ocean, posing a threat to marine ecosystems and entering the human food chain through aquatic life. They are primarily released during laundry. To minimize this impact, consider washing full loads when using your washing machine.


Excessive Clothing Consumption: Let's Make Thoughtful Choices

Affordable prices and ever-changing trends have led to excessive clothing consumption. In 2019, a staggering 62 million metric tons of apparel were consumed globally. However, this overconsumption has severe consequences.


Low-quality clothing wears out quickly, leading to more frequent purchases. Sadly, a significant portion of discarded clothing ends up in landfills or incinerators, releasing toxic substances and pollutants into the air. It's time we change our consumption habits.


The Viscose Dilemma: Seeking Sustainable Alternatives

Viscose, a common cellulosic fiber, has detrimental effects on the environment. The production process involves toxic chemicals, posing risks to both the environment and workers. Carbon disulphide used in viscose fiber production has severe health effects on workers. Surprisingly, viscose production generates more greenhouse gas emissions than cotton production.


Seeking Sustainable Alternatives: The Way Forward

Instead of viscose, we have alternatives like sustainable cellulosic fibers. Companies like Spinnova in Finland have transformed wood fibers into recyclable fibers without harmful chemicals. This innovative method uses significantly less water than cotton production, providing a safer and more sustainable alternative.


With a growing concern among the general population, many start-ups are exploring cellulosics sourced from various materials like oranges, milk, and coffee. Modal and lyocell, introduced in the 1950s and 1970s, are biodegradable and use fewer resources. They have gained popularity among consumers and companies alike. It's clear that sustainable alternatives are within reach, and we can drive this change forward.


Let's Act Now!

  1. Choose Quality Over Quantity: Invest in well-made, durable clothing that lasts longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

  2. Support Sustainable Brands: Research and choose fashion brands committed to sustainability and ethical practices.

  3. Recycle and Donate: Instead of discarding old clothes, recycle or donate them to reduce waste.

  4. Opt for Natural Fibers: Select clothing made from natural, biodegradable fibers like cotton, linen, and hemp.

  5. Educate Others: Spread awareness about the environmental impact of fast fashion and encourage others to make mindful choices.

By taking these actions, we can collectively make a positive impact on the environment and work towards a more sustainable fashion industry.


Aerial view of landfill
Landfill

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