The first thing that springs to mind when we go shopping at the mall is how such inexpensive clothing can be mass-produced. It’s hardly surprising that the fast fashion industry and the manufacturers that supply it figured something out. Fast fashion and its rapid expansion have raised several ethical and environmental issues. As many industrialised countries have relatively strong minimum wage requirements, the fast fashion industry sometimes outsources production to countries with lower salaries. Fast fashion may provide reduced prices to the ordinary North American buyer, but it also has a number of disadvantages. As a consequence, it is on us as consumers to investigate potential remedies for the unchecked environmental damage caused by our buying habits.
Abnormally high water use
One tenth of all industrial water used to run facilities and clean items goes towards the fashion industry. To give you an idea, it takes around 3,000 litres of water to produce only one cotton T-shirt, or 10,000 litres to produce one kg of cotton. To add insult to injury, toxic chemicals used in the textile dyeing process often find their way into the ocean. Somewhere approximately 20% of the world’s effluent is produced by this procedure. As was previously said, many factories have moved overseas, perhaps to countries with less stringent environmental regulations, which may lead to untreated water flowing into the oceans. However, the effluent is very dangerous and, in many cases, unsafe to manage.
Microscopic filaments of synthetic plastic
Second, most of the plastic microfibers in our oceans and seas come from synthetic textiles. Around 35% of all microplastics are made from these synthetic fabrics. In order to keep production costs down even further, companies often resort to using subpar components. Polyester, which is produced from petroleum and releases far more carbon emissions than cotton, is used in the production of many of the fibres. Moreover, plastic takes a very long time to break down in water. Whenever plastic breaks down, it produces a toxic chemical that is bad for marine life.
As a result of being ingested by aquatic life, these plastic microfibers eventually make their way up the food chain to humans, where they have a wide range of negative effects on human health. One of the most common ways they may get into our ocean is via our washing machines. As the washing machine has clearly become an important appliance in our homes, it is crucial to wash full loads whenever possible in order to save water.
High Rates of Clothing Use
Customers’ perception of clothing’s value may decrease as a result of the ease with which it may be obtained and the influence of emerging fashion trends. The latest data shows that 2019 had a global clothing consumption of 62 million metric tonnes. Throughout the last several decades, there has been a meteoric rise in the consumption of goods and services in our society. Lesser quality clothing wears apart after only a few washes, producing a need for more new items, which is good for the economy but leads to more trash in landfills.
Clothing piles in landfills and trash fires are two major issues. Most people would rather throw away clothes than donate them. Whether it’s because they’ve outgrown them or they’re no longer in style. In addition, many materials are wasted since they are not used for any other manufacturing process. This is due to the large number of cut outs required for the garment. Around 57% of all abandoned clothing is thrown away in landfills, and when they are filled, it is sent to an incinerator. When a landfill burns, it releases toxic chemicals or huge amounts of gases that are bad for humans and the environment. Filters designed to trap pollutants have been developed. However air pollution still persists and is often recycled from landfills after being changed into a more dangerous chemical.
Methods for Using Viscose
First introduced in 1890, viscose was developed as a cellulosic substitute for cotton. Being a cellulosic fibre made from wood pulp, viscose (or rayon) is a popular alternative to synthetic fabrics. Harmful chemicals and unethical sourcing of raw materials are used, which has devastating effects on the ecosystem. Concerns regarding the companies’ use of dangerous chemicals extend beyond environmental ones for some people. Viscose fabric production, for instance, exposes workers to carbon disulfide, which may cause fatal illness. Hence, it’s not too shocking that more GHGs are released during the manufacture of viscose than cotton.
An Alternative to Viscose
We may replace viscose with other fibres, such as cellulosic fibres that are more environmentally friendly. Finnish company Spinnova has developed a way to recycle wood fibres without using any of the harmful chemicals often associated with viscose production. The method, which employs a material derived from wood fibre, is modelled by weavings of spider webs. Reports show that it requires 99 percent less water than cotton production. This approach has a lot of promise since it reduces risk, conserves materials. Also, it demonstrates that other companies can easily source sustainably. As more people become aware of the need for cellulosics, several new companies have set out to extract them from unconventional foods and beverages. Such orange juice, milk, and coffee.
Examples of revolutionary fibres include modal from the 1950s and lyocell from the 1970s. These fibres are biodegradable, use less fibre and dye, and are superior to previous fibres in terms of moisture absorption and moisture wicking. Customers and companies of all stripes have taken notice, making them more commonplace. The issue of sustainability is glaring, but there have been a number of developments that have helped steer the industry in the right direction. As the movement gains momentum, we can have a significant impact.
Today’s fashion industry contributes more to annual carbon dioxide emissions than the whole worldwide air and maritime freight sector. Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase by 50% in the next decade if the present rate of growth is maintained. Understanding the underlying issues will help us piece together a plan of action, making the subsequent steps more manageable. Some of them are mentioned in the article. But others include pushing for change and exercising prudence while purchasing fast fashion enterprises. If you’ve ever been confused about which businesses to support, know that you’re not alone.
If you take the time to learn about different brands before making a clothes purchase. You may be able to make better informed decisions that are in line with your environmental values. The fashion industry has done a lot of damage to our ecosystem. Yet, if we start fighting for a green-friendly fashion industry and become environmentally conscious customers. We can eventually lessen the effects of climate change.
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