Our obsession with fashion is costing us not just economically but environmentally as well
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
Modern times with increase in purchasing power of people, our quest to look good and lower cost of garment has brought us to this stage. We are all party to it. Look at our wardrobe, you will find most clothes that you probably have worn fewer than 10 times in a year and most clothes are discarded even before that. How did we come to this? The major reason for this is the emergence of Fast Fashion which means that the life cycle of fashion is getting shorter which is leading to more clothes being manufactured and bought for a shorter duration. Most people are now wearing clothing items fewer times and due to lower cost of garments they are buying even more. Fast fashion is a source of growth for the clothing companies but is detrimental to the environment. It affects the environment is not just one way but many.
Firstly, due to fast fashion, most fast fashion companies are using unsustainable material to manufacture clothes. Polyester being used in 60% of the clothes releases micro-plastic, a toxic material, which when washed gets into the water bodies and are mistaken for food by marine animals and is not easily biodegradable. Fashion industry is one of the largest polluters of the environment. About 10% of total carbon emission is attributable to the fashion industry. It is also energy and water consuming. Cotton used to make clothes takes a lot of freshwater to grow which can quench thirst of a lot of people. The water that is used to dye clothes using toxic dyes is released into the water bodies, polluting them.
We could look at many aspects to solve this problem of unsustainable fashion. Companies need to source materials that are more sustainable hence not putting adverse impact on the environment. There is little recycling and reuse of used clothes, this needs to change both from customer side and company side. There is a dire need to close the loop and recycle the fashion waste.
Working on the motive of making fashion sustainable, SaltyCo, a UK based Fashion Company, uses seawater to grow plants which provide fabric for clothes. Instead of using freshwater which is used in large quantity to grow cotton, these plants use seawater which are extracted to provide fibers which are used as raw material for making clothes. If everything went well, they could be the 1st ones to produce commercial clothing items without using freshwater paving way towards sustainable fashion that is dearer to environment.