Sustainable fashion is da new black (1/2)
The fashion industry is a $1.3 trillion industry that employs more than 300 million people worldwide according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation study. On a European scale, the fashion market exceeded 400 billion in sales in 2017, with the United Kingdom as the largest contributor. The fashion market is currently dominated by major players such as H&M and Zara, as well as Burberry or Louis Vuitton. These don’t necessiraly take into account the environmental aspect of their production and mainly prefer to sell in large quantities and at cheap prices. Which is paradoxical for ‘luxury’ brands, huh?
Furthermore, over the last 15 years, the production of clothing has doubled in the world, in particular due to the fast fashion trend of renewing collections very regularly. Thus, clothing sales are expected to reach 160 million tons by 2050 according to Ellen Macarthur Foundation study. MORE, MORE, MORE, ALWAYS MORE !
Moreover, in parallel with this increase in production, the closing utilisation continues to decrease. In fact, excluding poor countries, the time of use of clothing has decreased in the world by an average of 36% over the last 15 years. For instance, in China it has even fallen by 70% , according to Ellen Macarthur Foundation study.
But what’s wrong with that?
This industry is therefore the 2nd most polluting industry after oil and the increase in the production of clothing presents environmental problems. The fashion market must therefore evolve in order to become part of a sustainable world. Time for CHANGE!
Indeed, all stages, from production to recycling of clothing has dramatic ecological consequences. The fashion industry has a negative impact on various sectors of the environment since it contributes to the production of CO2, water use, plastic pollution in the sea and puts pressure on natural resources. In addition, clothing is often overproduced, which leads to significant amounts of waste. This problem of waste is also present with the sold clothes since after use most of the clothes are not recycled. Reducing these negative externalities could generate an additional 160 billion euros by 2030, according to Ellen Macarthur Foundation study.
The fashion industry is responsible for about 3 to 10% of global CO2 emissions. MORE than ALL the TRAFFIC EMISSIONS! (From all commercial flights and sea traffic combined). This production is enormous, all the more so as part of the maritime traffic is already due to the fashion industry. This high CO2 production is generated by the production, use and end of life of clothing. Indeed, for the manufacture of the products, synthetic fibers are produced from petroleum. Subsequently, the transport of the clothes to the store is also responsible for CO2 emissions. As well as the clothing cleaning and the non-recycling of the clothes, which are often burned. Thus, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in terms of CO2 emissions in the world.
Fashion is also an extremely water-intensive industry. It uses 93 billion cubic meter of water per year, through the cultivation of fields, the washing of clothes and their manufacture (colouring). Cotton is not normally a plant that needs a lot of water, however, farmers use genetically modified cotton, which is very water demanding in order to increase their productione more. Organic cotton should therefore be favoured in order to reduce water consumption, but for the moment organic cotton represents less than 1% of cotton production.
The textile industry also contributes to land use. This land use causes environmental and societal problems. On the one hand, because the land used to produce cotton is not used to feed the population. On the other hand, because the land used for cotton production is polluted and therefore damaged by the many pesticides used for the crops.
Pressure on resources
The fashion industry is also responsible for the use of non-renewable resources. A total of 98 million tonnes of non-renewable raw materials, such as the oil used to produce synthetic fibers or the fertiliser used for cotton, are used by the textile industry. Moreover, most of the clothing and materials used to produce clothing are not recycled or used to produce new clothing. This one-time use of non-renewable resources therefore results in a loss equivalent to $100 billion each year.
Finally, a major consequence of fashion on the environment lies in the use of microplastics. Indeed, textile fibers such as polyester contain microplastics that are released into the water at each wash. The water is then discharged into the oceans, which are then polluted with microplastics. Polyester is made from petroleum and is often not biodegradable, so it can remain in the water for a very long time. The fashion industry alone is responsible for 35% of the microplastic pollution of the oceans according to the environmental organisation of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The fashion industry is therefore one of the most polluting industries in the world… As we all contribute to its growth, we all have the power to improve it. Let’s take action ! Luckily there are exciting alternatives to check out here!
PS: We also condemn Fast Fashion for all the social problems it causes (From exploitative labor to environmental racism, as well as gender and wealth inequality).
The daphni team❤️