The fashion industry is one of biggest polluter in the world. Annually, it contributes to 20% of global water wastage, half a trillion of dyed water, tonnes of microplastics in the ocean and 21B tonnes of textiles sent to landfills. We believe knowing makes it easier to act, so we share a few shocking facts about the status quo of the current industry.
IMPACT OF FASHION
Excessive Water Use & Waste
A single cotton t-shirt takes 2,700 liters of water to produce - the same amount a human drinks in 3.7 years! According to the Danish Fashion Institute, these shocking statistics make the fashion industry the second largest user of water in the world - while creating 20% of industrial water waste.
More than 90% of that cotton is now genetically modified, using vast amounts of water as well as chemicals. Cotton production is responsible for 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of total insecticide use. The largely untested impacts of these chemicals on both the land and human health are beginning to be questioned. As our skin is the largest organ, these chemicals are passed into the bloodstream of the people wearing these clothes.
Tiny pieces of plastic, mainly polyester, are now found in close to 50% of deep sea creatures. While it is not possible to determine its origin, polyester is used widely in clothing and it is considered it reaches the sea in waste water from washing machines.
Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity's carbon emissions. That is more than the Air- and Maritime-transportation combined.
More than half a trillion gallons of fresh water are used to dye textiles each year. The dye waste water is discharged into nearby rivers, often untreated, where it reaches the sea and eventually spreads around the globe. According to Yale Environment 360, China discharges roughly 40% of these chemicals.
The average American throws away 68 pounds of clothes per year, 85% of which are sent to overflowing landfills all around the world. That amounts to an estimated 21 billion tonnes of textiles per year that are neither recycled, nor disposed of in a sustainable way.
The Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people work in slavery (covering both forced labour and other forms of slavery) in 167 countries. About 58 per cent of people in slave labour are in the major cotton- or garment-producing countries of the world.
Watch our TEDx on Fashion's Impact