Over the years, sustainable fashion has become a subject I've gained quite some passion for, and as a consequence, I've become more aware of my consumption patterns. I try to think quality over quantity and reduce my footprint through recycling and donations. What surprises me, however, is the general lack of knowledge regarding this issue. Are you aware of how much pollution your new dress produced before it ended up on your rack? No? These quick facts might help you see the industry in a new perspective.
Sidenote: This is not a post that's meant to scare you or tell you what's right or wrong. I simply wish to shed some light on how a small decrease in demand and consumption (in combination with innovation and technology) can have a massive, positive impact on our globe and societies.
Second to oil, fashion and textiles is the most polluting industry in the world
It can take more than 20,000 liters of water to produce one pair of jeans. Add the pollution from the shipping of raw materials, chemicals used in production, packaging and transportation and you are looking at quite an extensive footprint..
One pair of jeans won't destroy the world, but did you know that more than one-and-a-half-billion pairs of jeans and cotton trousers are sewn in Bangladesh every year? And that’s just in Bangladesh. And jeans
If the global population rises to 8.5 billion people by 2030 as the United Nations expects, overall apparel consumption will jump by 63 percent from 62 million tonnes to 102 million tonnes.
Up to 8,000 different chemicals are used to turn raw materials into clothes. Some of these chemicals survive the production process and may cause harm to the human wearing it.
Americans throw away an estimated 68 lbs of clothing per person a year. Most of which could've been recycled and re-purposed.
"Anti" clothing (anti-shrink, anti-wrinkle etc.) often contain chemicals that are hazardous to both ypu and the environment.
Viscose, a material that is widely used in fashion, is produced from wood pulp and has been a huge contributor to the destruction of huge parcels of rain forest.
We buy and re-buy. That’s what we do. I'm not telling you to stop shopping or blame your local clothing store. I'm simply encouraging you to rethink your consumption patterns and realize that we need change. Change won't happen overnight, but it will happen when consumers and corporations make a collective effort to do so.
Tips: Contributing to positive change is easily done by recycling or donating your old garments. I know that H&M often accepts used clothes for recycling, while Goodwill accepts donations.
Sources: Business of Fashion, Reformation, The Pulse of Fashion, BCG, VOGUE