The textile industry is one of the leading causes of global pollution. The environmental impact of the oil industry is widely known but what went into making the jeans or shirt you’re wearing and the resulting impact on the environment are not as talked about. Our founder, Tabitha, actually address the environmental impact of textile waste in her TedTalk. We highly recommend you check it out as it’s full of important information that all of us as consumers should be aware of to help us understand and address the issue of textile waste.
One of the most concerning pieces of information Tabitha shared in the TedTalk is the rate at which we are using the earth’s resources. Currently, we are using the earth’s resources 1.5 times faster than they can be replenished which means we are using the resources of future generations. Another shocking piece of information shared in the TedTalk is the amount of water it can take to produce a single pair of jeans. Up to 7000 litres of water can be required to make one pair of jeans or as much water as one person drinks in 26 years. Further, the chemicals used in the manufacturing of clothing result in the fashion industry being the second largest contributor to water pollution. Many of these chemicals, such as azo dyes are hazardous to human health and some countries have even considered banning them.
In addition to the contamination of water sources from dyes and other chemicals, polyester, a commonly used fabric in fashion can actually pollute our water with microfibers. When a polyester garment is washed in a washing machine, fibers are shed and are able to bypass most water treatment plants and ultimately end up in our oceans. As Tabitha mentioned in her TedTalk, it can take up to 200 years for a polyester jacket to decompose, meaning the microfibers being washed into the ocean can pose a serious threat to aquatic life. Even natural fabrics like cotton are damaging to our earth. Despite only accounting for 2.4% of the world’s crops, cotton crops are responsible for 25% of the world’s insecticide use.
The impact of the textile industry on the environment cannot be understated. It is important to be conscious of the pollution produced by the textile industry so that we as consumers can make better choices with regards to the clothing we purchase. Further, there are some ways you can help out; we discuss some of them in our corresponding blog post about reducing your textile waste which you can read here.