ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF FASHION
If we continue on this trajectory we will destroy the planet and its biodiversity.
Oil consumption used by the fashion and textile industry – according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – is estimated to triple from 98 million tonnes today to 300 million tonnes by 2050.
Nature is essential for human existence and a good quality of life, providing and sustaining the air, freshwater and soils on which we all depend.
Negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services from unsustainable business operations pose a number of risks to corporate performance.
Some of these risks include for example the following areas:
Operational: increased scarcity and cost of raw materials such as freshwater; disruptions to business operations caused by natural hazards; and higher insurance costs for natural disasters.
Market: customers switching to more sustainably sourced or certified products; and governments implementing new sustainable procurement policies.
Regulatory: emergence of new government policies such as taxes and moratoria on extractive activities.
Reputational: damage to corporate reputation from media and NGO campaigns; shareholder resolutions; and changing consumer preferences. • Access to capital: restricted access as the financial community adopts more rigorous investment and lending policies.
Fashion is polluting air
The production of fibres, whether natural or synthetic, would be responsible for most of the textile industry's emissions. If we take the example of a natural fibre such as wool, all the emissions produced during the rearing of sheep and all the stages of fibre separation until a yarn is obtained have to be accounted for.
For synthetic fibres, the situation is just alarming. Their production is said to be responsible for around 40% of the textile industry's greenhouse gas emissions*, based in particular on the gases emitted during the extraction and processing phases of oil, the basic element of synthetic fibres.
The best known and most intuitive stage of greenhouse gas production is that of transport. Indeed, today the production of a garment is so fragmented that a fibre can be grown in country A, transported to country B to be spun, woven in country C and finally made into a final garment in country D.
Fashion depletes natural resources
Fashion is not without consequences for natural resources either. Water and oil are non-renewable resources whose stock diminishes from year to year.
If we take the case of water, this resource is necessary for many stages in the manufacture of a garment: breeding and cultivation (especially that of water-intensive cotton), spinning, dyeing and treatment, but also during the maintenance of the garments. According to UNCTAD*, the textile industry uses 93 billion cubic metres of water every year, i.e. the water needed to support 5 million people.
Another exhaustible resource is oil. Oil is increasingly used in the textile industry because it is the main basis for synthetic fibres. Today synthetic fibres represent more than 65% of all textile fibres, reducing the share of natural fibres.
Fashion is polluting water
The world is facing a number of unprecedented and urgent environmental crises.
Rising temperatures will have a profound impact on the world’s water sources, including rising sea levels, higher risk of flooding and droughts, accelerating water scarcity, pollution, disruption of freshwater systems and more.
Water crises remains within the top five risks to society (ranked by severity of impact) according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report. 90% of the world’s natural disasters are water-related.
2 billion people live in countries exposed to high water stress – population growth, increased water demand, and climate change are likely to exacerbate this.
Do our clothes add to microplastic in the oceans?
When we wash our clothes, and they are swishing and swirling around in the washing machine, plastic microfibres can detach off our clothes and go into the wastewater. The wastewater then goes to the sewage treatment facilities. As the fibres are so small, a majority can pass through filtration processes and make their way into the marine environment. Up to 700,000 fibres can come off our clothes in a typical wash. Now imagine that for how many times you wash your clothes in a year. Then multiply that for your street, town, city, country. It is a huge proportion of tin microplastic fibres potentially entering our oceans. Fibres can also come off our clothes even when they are not being washed.
We make over 300 million tons of plastic every year, and 8 million tons of that is predicted to go into our oceans. Due to the tiny size of microfibres, they can be ingested by marine animals, many of which end up as our food. Once ingested, they can cause gut blockage, physical injury, changes to oxygen levels in cells in the body, altered feeding behaviour and reduced energy levels, which impacts growth and reproduction. Due to this, the balance of whole ecosystems can be affected. Additionally, the polymers that make up the microfibres contain chemical additives such as plasticisers (a substance added to improve plasticity and flexibility of a material), flame retardants and antimicrobial agents (a chemical that kills or stops the growth of microorganisms like bacteria), which could leach out of the plastic and into the environment.
Informations and Text Credit to futurelearn.com /