The fashion industry may be one of the most prosperous and developing industries in the global economy. Unfortunately, it is also one of the largest contributors to pollution and exploitation. According to experts, the fashion industry is one of the largest global contributors to environmental pollution, which has a huge impact on water, air and soil, due to its heavy usage of toxic chemicals and much more. In addition, the industry is controversial, not only for its contribution towards pollution but also for their exploitation of factory workers.
The fashion industry has a fatal impact on the environment, especially air and water pollution due to the excess utilization of toxic chemicals and textile waste.
The Environmental Audit Select Committee has asserted that 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been solely produced by the fashion industry. In addition, they added that people are able to afford twice as much clothing items as a decade ago and fish are consuming synthetic fibers discharged into the rivers by textile factories. Stephen Leahy of The Guardian reported that the water that was used to grow cotton in India used eighty five percent of the daily water requirements for the population of the country. The scary fact is that over one hundred million individuals in the country lack access to clean drinking water. Research has found that over twenty percent of water pollution is comprised of textile treatments and dyeing, while ninety percent of wastewater in developing countries is dumped into rivers without being treated. The issue with wastewater is that it contains toxic elements, such as lead, mercury, and more, which are fatal to marine life and extremely detrimental to humans.
Another crisis within the fashion industry is the exploitation of factory workers in the form of low wages and inhumane living conditions. Child labor has been a major part of the inhumane exploitation of humans within the industry. According to Daily Mail UK, kids eat, shower and rest inside the factories with just half a day off a week, on account of the extent of work. On top of that, UNICEF has stated over million children, ages ten-to-fourteen have been overworked as child laborers in Bangladesh. Regardless of these transgressions, the fashion industry is known to be one of the highest-grossing industries, due to its global economic success. The McKinsey Global Fashion Index reported that the industry has risen by five-point-five percent, and is currently worth an estimated two-point-four trillion dollars. Yet, oftentimes factory workers are paid less than the sanctioned salary, a disturbing fact that is often overlooked within the industry, as well as the general public.
On a more positive note, buying clothes from sustainable brands and thrift stores, as well as donating and recycling clothes instead of throwing them out are highly encouraged with respect to sustainability. When it comes to celebrities, Emma Watson, Pharrell Williams and more have been great advocates for environmental change and the sustainable fashion movement. They have also collaborated on sustainable fashion labels. Emma Watson, who is the U.N.’s Women’s Goodwill Ambassador, has collaborated with the ethical fashion brand People Tree. The fast fashion label H&M declared that they will only be using recycled, as well as other sustainable materials by 2030. As a result, in 2017, the Ethisphere Institute named H&M one of the most ethical companies in the world.
Although some of the fashion brands are making amendments to sustain environmental conditions, the fashion industry has a long way to go in order to maintain an ideal future for the upcoming generations. On the bright side, millions of people have been actively protesting and demanding change in the name of conserving our planet. If we hope for a sustainable and better future, we must voice the demand for more sustainable and ethically-correct products from the brands that supply us with our needs.