by Taetske | 5:10 pm
(Last Updated On: October 29, 2018)

Is fashion a danger to our environment?

 

girl shopping for clothes

Girl shopping for clothes

 

These past years one has quite often heard of awful accidents in factories where clothes are made. These factories are in countries like Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, where working conditions are far below what we are used to in Western countries. Wages are not enough to provide food for a family and working hours are more than what is considered human. Do not even think about having a day off or holidays, all concepts which are considered our rights are often non-existent.

 

Unhuman like conditions

We would not be willing to work under these type of conditions, so fashion brands take the work to countries where jobs are needed and wages below the minimum. All of this, just to give the western world the privilege of being up to date with fashion. To make this fashion affordable, these measures seem to be necessary.

 

mannequins on display

Mannequins on display

 

“Slave” labor in the garment industry

We have heard about those awful accidents like that big fire which claimed 100 victims. Fire escape doors and extinguishers are not there or too few so that any fire would cost many lives. The garment industry in the U.S. knows this kind of tragedy all too well, as, in 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire claimed the lives of 146 people. The U.S. modified their fire codes to help prevent these kinds of terrible events from ever happening again.

Now we just moved the slave labor overseas. To areas where people must work in below substandard conditions and dangerous environments.  When a catastrophe does strike, people who were the only breadwinner are suddenly not there anymore. In these countries, those families cannot fall back on help from a social security system, something we find a normality.

 

working in a garment factory

Working in a garment factory

 

Consumerism-driven economy

If all this were not enough, some new data has come to light which makes one rethink about our shopping habits. We live in a consumerism-driven economy. A buy and throw away society, to make a place for the latest fashion. It is quite alarming how easily we waste clothes when somewhere else people have hardly anything to wear. Influenced by advertisements, tv, internet, and blogs by people, we buy the latest without realizing the effects it has on our environment.

The fashion industry seems to be one of the top five most-polluting industries in the world. This is quite amazing as one normally thinks that the oil industry is the main culprit. We know by now that plastic is polluting our planet. Then there are too many cars and transport in general which pollute the air. But would you have thought that the fashion branch would add to pollution?

 

cotton plantation

Cotton Plantation

 

100 billion new garments from new fibers are produced every year

That is a huge amount and our planet cannot sustain that. There are many things involved with making a garment. To produce cotton, which is the most common fiber used in textiles produced in the EU, one needs pesticides, toxic dyes in the manufacturing, and heaps of water. Actually, the volume of water needed is more than one can imagine. Did you know that for one pair of jeans 15,000 liters of water are needed to grow the cotton? When one realizes that 2,000 million people do not have their daily drinkable water guaranteed, this figure is really a scandal.

I live in the south of Spain and have a household of 2 people, some animals, and farmland. For personal use we calculate half a cubic meter, that is 500 liters a day. That means that the 15000 liters needed for 1 pair of jeans would keep us going for 1 month. That is a figure which makes you think.

 

Have you heard of the disappearing of the Aral Sea?

This sea was one of the biggest inland seas in the world. Tourists would go there and admire its beauty. It was the home of fish and a lot of wildlife depending on its water. It used to be huge with 68,000 sq km.  It started to shrink in the 1960’s because of cotton production. Now it looks like a desert landscape, all dry. One of its feeding rivers – the Amu Darya – has been diverted and all its water is used for cotton production farms with no water left over to feed the sea. There you see how cotton production can have an altering and negative effect on our ecosystems and environment.

 

 

More places in the world with problems

The river Citarum in Indonesia is one of those places linked with garment making. There are 400 factories and these factories pollute the waterways on a daily basis. This water is used by the local people to do their washing and personal hygiene and now it turns out this water is loaded with mercury, cadmium, lead, and arsenic. What does the toxic level of the water do to the people? That is really something to ponder upon.

Take for example mercury. Your health will suffer if you breathe it, eat it, and also if your skin comes in contact with it. These people swim in it. Big companies Like Zara, Asos, M&S, and Monsoon are not really open to discussing these type of issues.

 

the many different brands of jeans

The many different brands of jeans

 

The Jeans Brand Levi’s

Luckily, the awareness of causing harm to people and the environment as a whole, does make some people think. Mr. Dillinger, who is the head of global production for the jeans brand Levi’s has voiced concern. They are trying to work on a solution by taking old garments, chemically deconstruct them and make them into new fiber. This new fiber feels and looks like cotton but has zero water impact.

This is a good start. If we want to go shopping, ignorant of all issues connected and the effects on large areas in the world, governments will have to make new laws. Otherwise, it is up to us to force the fashion brands to realize this. Their earning potential will fall unless they start investing in eco-friendly production.  Although this might be still somewhere in the future, we must make them aware of the damage done and at least starts thinking about it.

 

shopping in the mall

Shopping in the mall

 

Shopping Trends have changed

Nowadays the internet is growing more and more powerful and younger people, in particular, follow trends set by their fashion influencers. One of them, Niomi Smart has started to call for a change in attitude. Having been informed about the damage fast fashion causes on the world, she thinks that talking directly to her followers might bring in results.

To wear a new outfit more than once or perhaps swap it with your family or friends should not be looked down on. To suddenly stop shopping is not realistic. We must become aware of the millions of gallons of fresh water needed to grow cotton or the fact that this water is then polluted with toxic chemicals to dye the clothes. This is necessary.

 

Source: BBC, story by Radhika Sanghani on 9 October 2018

Photo Source: Pixabay

 

 

So many people do not have their daily drinking water guaranteed.

Unbelievable! 2000 million People have no Clean Water

Comments

AnxietyPanda

The information provided in this article is shocking! :O I never knew that the fashion industry had so many negative impacts for the world. 

I’ve never been into fashion, luckily, but this has inspired me to be even MORE careful with my clothe buying habits.

More people need to read this article! I will be sure to share this link. 

Oct 30.2018 | 05:15 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon, sorry, I do not know your name.

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    It is shocking, that is true. We have no idea what really happens in the time before buying the latest fashion. I also found it awful finding out about all of this and that is why I needed to write this post. Thank you for sharing the link, the more people find out about it the better.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 30.2018 | 06:03 pm

Alexander

I was aware of the detrimental effects of electronics on the environment, but I didn’t realize so much before reading your article that the fashion and garment industry hungry for water wasting cotton was so bad for the environment. Thank you for making the effort to raise awareness of this big problem.

As far as electronics go, it is so important to recycle and it looks like recycling garments is also soon possible. As for working conditions, Apple is the worst company in the world for this as they employ poor Chinese people with the worst, even suicidal, conditions and pay below a livable wage.

Oct 30.2018 | 05:19 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Alexander,

    Being up to date, being “modern” has a lot of negative sides to it. I think it is possible to have a nice life but take better care of our habitat. We only have one after all.

    Electronics is one of those things. It seems that people always need the latest model and throw away  the old one even if that laptop or mobile still functions very well. One should try and change the way of thinking but that is probably very difficult. 

    I hope that one day all people will realize that Mother Earth is the habitat of us all instead of only a few.

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my post. I hope you have downloaded your free PDF?

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 30.2018 | 06:03 pm

Florence Ki

Wow… this is really something new to me. I didn’t know that cotton can cause so much environmental and social issue. All these while, I always buy cotton products. Luckily, the only jeans that I wear is Levis brand. Living lean should be the next trend that we should emulate so together we are able to save our mother earth. Thanks for sharing such awesome post. 

Oct 30.2018 | 05:21 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Florence,

    I am happy to hear you found my post interesting. I was also shocked when I found out about the impact cotton crops have on the environment. It is not something one hears about much. Also, the working conditions of these people are so awful, it really is a scandal. 

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 31.2018 | 07:27 am

Wiebren

Hi Taetske, I hope your article wakes a few people up. Hemp and bamboo seem to be much more sustainable alternatives. What’s your take on these? Being a veggo I often quote that it takes 15 times as much water to grow a kilo of beef than a kilo of beans.
My perfectly good IPad can now not install certain Apps as it’s operating system is out of date. I am therefore ‘forced’ to replace it. I agree modern consumerism is unsustainable. Luckily in Australia we have Op-shop where you can buy secondhand clothes and save them from becoming landfill.

Nov 02.2018 | 01:54 am

    Taetske

    Good Morning Wiebren,

    Thank you for your visit to my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF.

    Bambu and especially Hemp are great. Besides clothes and kitchen utensils I have seen you can build a house with Hemp being the main construction material, quite amazing I must say. I know quite a bit about building as I have supervised the building of a house and even have done building myself. 2 fishponds, bookshelves, flowerbeds and a 12 pillar pergola. This was of course with stone and cement.

    I have my mobile on off in my handbag. The thing is more than 20 years old. I probably use it only for calling about 3 times a year in an emergency like stuck on the road or late for an appointment. I do not like machines, I am a nature person. You will understand my love/hate relationship with my little laptop.

    There are too many cows in the world and they contribute to Global Warming on top of it they are unhappy cows. The human race still has a long way to go.

    Regards, Taetske

    Nov 02.2018 | 07:39 am

    Taetske

    p.s. I am sending you the link to another post. I think the video at the bottom of the post is very good albeit very sad.

    Regard, Taetske

    https://motherearthstreasures.com/urgent-are-our-future-generations-at-risk

    Nov 02.2018 | 07:46 am

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