The Fashion Industry

The fashion industry is the #2 polluter in the whole world, second only to the oil industry.  The litany of high fashion’s sins against Plant Earth is endless:

Water pollution:  Most of the products are made in developing nations where 90% of the toxic chemicals from the production process are discharged directly into the water supply.

Wasted water:  While “water has become the new oil” because it’s so scarce worldwide, 200 pounds of water are used to create every pound of dyed fabric.  12,000 gallons of water are used to grow just one pound of cotton. Meanwhile, almost 1 billion people around the world (how many work for slave wages in the fashion industry?) don’t have access to freshwater.

Microfiber pollution:  Every time you wash a synthetic fabric, 2000 microfibers are released into the water supply (unless your house has a septic tank).  200,000 TONS of microfibers reach the oceans each year: 85% of all man-made debris on shorelines.  Small fish eat those colorful microfibers; large fish eat the small fish, and people eat the large fish – ingesting all those same microfibers you created.

Fashion waste: Families in developed nations throw away almost 70 pounds of fashions each year.  Only 15% is recycled or donated. Synthetic fibers, which make up 75% of our clothing, can take 200 years to decompose in landfills. 

Global warming: The fashion industry contributes ten percent of all carbon emissions.  Synthetic fibers are made from fossil fuels (petroleum).  Most of the fashion clothing is made in China and India, which are almost exclusively powered by coal.

Soil degradation: Cotton destroyed the soil in the Old South because cotton leeches all the valuable nutrients from the soil.  Did we learn the lesson?  90% of the land area of Mongolia is facing desertification because of the grazing of goats for cashmere.  (Goats are a whole lot more gentle on the soil than cotton). Think about that next time you shop for a cashmere sweater.

Deforestation:  70 million trees are cut down every year to manufacture plant-based fabrics (rayon, viscose, modal).  Thirty percent of these fabrics comes from rainforests and ancient forests.  Wearing real mink is out ~ wearing rainforests is all the rage now.

Think about all the damage you’re doing when you throw away your clothes after the average closet time of 3 years.  Then remember that older clothes shed more microfibers when washed than new clothes.  Which will get you to thinking about 100% cotton fabrics – except growing cotton on land utterly destroys the would for hundreds of future generations – millennia!

If artificially-faded jeans are haute couture – why not soft, comfy, older clothes altogether?

Future Tech ! Washing machines should have a filter on the discharge line to collect all the microfibers before they enter the sewer system.  After each load, you can clean the microfiber filter just like you do the lint filter in the clothes dryer.

Many offices have a casual “Jeans Friday.”  Why not “Fashion Throwback Thursdays,” where everybody wears out-of-fashion clothes?  Or have an old clothes collection drive a couple of times a year where folks can bring in their old clothes to donate to Goodwill or some other worthy charity.