Updated: Aug 9, 2020
BY LIVVY SHELMERDINE
We have all been a victim to fashion: buying things we don’t need, ordering the wrong size... You know the drill. Those problems are all fixable - send it back, refund, etc; but we can’t refund the water used. Around 2,000 gallons of water are used to produce 1 pair of jeans. That's more than enough for one person to drink eight cups per day for 10 years. This is because both products are made from the highly water-intensive plant: cotton. Cotton makes up 90% of all natural fibers used in the textile industry. Due to cotton farming sapping its water supply over the past 50 years, one of the world's largest lakes, the Aral Sea, in Uzbekistan, is now a desert waste land. The mass textile dyeing process uses enough water to fill 2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools each year. This is the world's second-largest polluter of water, since the water leftover from the dyeing process is dumped into ditches, streams, or rivers. All in all, the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution worldwide. There are huge water shortages all over the world and we are wearing the problem every day. Lower economic countries are most vulnerable as they lack resources to invest in fresh water supplies – these countries are also the ones providing the work force for fast fashion. What can you do?
Check where your clothes come from! Are you supporting local brands who source their fabrics sustainably or are you buying from big fast-fashion companies whose clothing is made in one of these hard-hit countries? Not pointing fingers, of course - we all do it! I know I have bought many clothes from these marketplaces, but they are such low quality I have to buy more soon after. It has to change. Change starts with each of us as individuals: if enough people stop supporting these unethical and unsustainable clothing brands, they would be forced to change their ways or watch themselves be overtaken by quality stores using quality production means, and we will reach a sustainable norm. Re-cycle clothes! We all have those clothes we never use but don’t bother getting rid of - you know the one I mean. That old T-shirt at the back of your draw you haven’t looked at in a year, or those old trackies that have a rip in them. Up-cycle them! Get your creativity on and change them into something you will wear. However, if you are not as textile savvy, then go to a charity shop! If you want to do more, swap and share them on loveyourclothes.org.uk. Or send them TRAID, who manage 15,000 clothing donation banks - and offer free home collections! It’s a little price to change the world. References: Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.in/science/news/the-fashion-industry-emits-more-carbon-than-international-flights-and-maritime-shipping-combined-here-are-the-biggest-ways-it-impacts-the-planet-/articleshow/71640863.cms World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/fashion-industry-carbon-unsustainable-environment-pollution/