Last year, a special report was issued by the United Nations stating that the fashion industry is one of the main culprits responsible for climate change. According to the report, two thousand gallons of water are wasted for preparing just one piece of jeans which are sufficient for seven years’ need of an individual. The fashion industry uses 93 billion gallons of water yearly which can fulfil the need of 50 lakh people. Fashion industries contribute 20% of the harmful effluents that flow into water bodies. As per reports, 8% of greenhouse gases are contributed by clothes and shoes industries. According to estimates, a truck full of waste is either burnt or dumped on earth every second.
In olden times, natural ingredients were used to beauty our face and skin but nowadays there are different types of face washes, shampoos, body lotions, shaving creams, etc. David Suzuki, a Japanese politician, has written extensively on environmental degradation. He writes in an article that face washes contain minute plastic particles which are non-recyclable and are very harmful for aquatic life.
According to a report, 90% waste from kitchens can be recycled but 50% wastes from washrooms can’t, and it flows through drains and rivers and ultimately finds its place in oceans. Further, 27 billion plastic bottles reach oceans yearly while more than 120 billion plastic products are manufactured by industries. It may be surprising to know that 85% of plastic in the world is used by fashion industries. It is expected that 12 billion tons of waste will be dumped on earth due to fashion industries by 2050. According to the statistics of leading environmental institutions, more than 10,000 chemicals are used in preparation of different beautifying items but only 11% among them are certified. It is surprising to know that 20% water pollutants have their origin from textile industries. Textile industries produce 1.5 trillion tons of waste yearly. According to reports of United Nations, 20 tons of fresh water is used in manufacturing one ton of cotton while 750 million people in world are without availability of potable water. According to reports only 15% clothes in the world are recycled or donated for reuse and the rest are thrown as waste and this waste makes 5.2% of total waste yearly thrown on earth. Textile industries also use chemicals on a large scale. According to experts, one kilogram of chemicals is used to prepare one kilogram of textiles. 23% of chemicals in the world are used in fashion industries. Most of the greenhouse gases emitted are from textile industries. Every year, 70 million barrels of fuel oil are used in manufacturing polyester which is an important element in fashion industries. Every year, 70 million trees are cut for manufacturing of artificial silk but only 30% of artificial silk is produced from these trees.
All the above statistical numbers are startling and we are deteriorating our environment in the race for fashion. We are degrading our environment to make our life fashionable. If we are going to use these beautifying chemical items at the same rate, our rivers and oceans will be completely filled with non-recyclable wastes in near future and the earth will become uninhabitable. Consciousness and awareness is necessary for saving our environment from degradation due to the fashion industry. There is a dire need for change. Textiles and other products need to be recycled and reused. Minimum or no plastic products should be used in face wash and other beautifying items. As long as our lifestyle will not change and keep following latest fashion trends, the fashion industry will keep producing items harmful for our environment. So, there is a need to change our lifestyle in order to save our environment from degradation. Above all, the government authorities should formulate strict laws for manufacturing industries in accordance with the environment protection guidelines. At the end it can be said that we should not follow the fashion trends at the cost of our existence.
The writer teaches Geography at GDC Kulgam. [email protected]