As consumers worldwide buy more clothes, the growing market for cheap items and new styles is taking a toll on the environment. On average, people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than they did in 2000. Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams.What’s more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean.
Clothing production has roughly doubled since 2000.While people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than in 2000, they only kept the clothes for half as long.
In Europe, fashion companies went from an average offering of two collections per year to five. A lot of this clothing ends up in the dump. The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second.
In total, up to 85% of textiles go into landfills each year.
That’s enough to fill the Sydney harbor annually.
Washing clothes, meanwhile, releases 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. Many of those fibers are polyester, a plastic found in an estimated 60% of garments.
Producing polyester releases two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton, and polyester does not break down in the ocean.
A 2017 report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that 35% of all microplastics — very small pieces of plastic that never biodegrade — in the ocean came from the laundering of synthetic textiles like polyester.
Overall, microplastics are estimated to compose up to 31% of plastic pollution in the ocean
The fashion industry is also the second-largest consumer of water worldwide.It takes about 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt.
It takes about 2,000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans.
That’s because both the jeans and the shirt are made from a highly water-intensive plant: cotton
Textile dyeing is the world’s second-largest polluter of water, since the water leftover from the dyeing process is often dumped into ditches, streams, or rivers.The dyeing process uses enough water to fill 2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools each year. All in all, the fashion industry is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution worldwide.
In Uzbekistan, cotton farming used up so much water from the Aral Sea that it dried up after about 50 years. Once one of the world’s four largest lakes, the Aral Sea is now little more than desert and a few small ponds
The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of humanity's carbon emissions, more emissions than all international flights and shipping combined. If the fashion industry continues on its current trajectory, this share of the carbon budget could increase to 26% by 2050
The global fashion industry emits 1.7 billion tons of CO2 per year
Synthetic fibers are made from synthesized polymers of small molecules. The compounds that are used to make these fibers come from raw materials such as petroleum-based chemicals or petrochemicals
When washed, fibres from polyester textiles and clothing are shed and enter waterways and oceans as microplastic fibres
Less than 1 mm
Experiments using domestic washing machines demonstrated that a single garment can produce more than 1,900 fibres per wash
20 percent of all fresh water pollution is made by textile treatment and dyeing.
Globally we produce 13 million tons of textile waste each year
Roughly eight million tons of plastics enter the world’s oceans each year, yet only one percent is found floating at the surface in visible form.
Over 1 million marine animals (including mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and birds) are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean
When rain falls and seeps deep into the earth, filling the cracks, crevices, and porous spaces of an aquifer (basically an underground storehouse of water), it becomes groundwater—one of our least visible but most important natural resources.Groundwater gets polluted when contaminants—from fashion caused landfills, pesticides for commercial crops and fertilizers to waste leached from landfills and septic systems
Groundwater can also spread contamination far from the original polluting source as it seeps into streams, lakes, and oceans.
Eighty percent of ocean pollution (also called marine pollution) originates on land—whether along the coast or far inland. Contaminants such as chemicals from the dyeing industry and textile mills are carried from factories by streams and rivers into our bays and estuaries; from there they travel out to sea. Meanwhile, marine debris—particularly plastic—is blown in by the wind or washed in via storm drains and sewers. The ocean absorbs as much as quarter of man-made carbon emissions.
When contamination originates from a single source, it’s called point source pollution. Examples include wastewater (also called effluent) discharged legally or illegally by a manufacturer such as a tannery. While point source pollution originates from a specific place, it can affect miles of waterways and ocean.
NON POINT SOURCE
Non point source pollution is contamination derived from diffuse sources. These may include dyeing units runoff or plastic packaging debris blown into waterways from land. It’s difficult to regulate, since there’s no single, identifiable culprit.
Not only is the agricultural sector the biggest consumer of global freshwater resources, with farming and livestock production using about 70 percent of the earth’s surface water supplies, but it’s also a serious water polluter.
Every time it rains, fertilizers and pesticides, wash nutrients and pathogens into our waterways. Nutrient pollution, caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in water or air, is the number-one threat to water quality worldwide and can cause algal blooms, a toxic soup of blue-green algae that can be harmful to people and wildlife.