The Environmentally Destructive Clothing Industry
Start writing a post

The Clothes On Your Back Are Destroying Our Environment

So you need to jump on this 'thrifting' trend right now.

The Clothes On Your Back Are Destroying Our Environment
Emily Wass

The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world just after the oil industry, and its environmental damage is only increasing as the industry grows. Though not a well-known issue, the negative environmental impacts of current textile practices are unprecedented due to the amassing toxic chemicals waste, the excessive amount of fresh water used to dye clothing and grow cotton, and the accumulating landfill waste as textiles are disposed of. Overall, the clothing industry is a destructive quick-money ploy with only one real solution: thrifting.

More and more companies are taking part in the textile industry every year due to the increased economic payoff of the production. With a constant reduction of production costs, garment quality is declining every year which causes consumers to purchase them even more—making it an ideal market for producers. However, the growth of the clothing industry has created a wealth of economic issues such as water pollution.

In many countries where textiles are produced, untreated toxic wastewaters from textile factories are dumped directly into surrounding bodies of water. Wastewater is the leftover water that remains after treating various textiles with chemicals. This fluid contains substances such as lead, mercury, and arsenic—among many other harmful chemicals. These chemicals are detrimental to aquatic life and other ecosystems that depend on these bodies of water for survival. Processes involving fiber production, dyeing, bleaching, and wet processing all use a substantial amount of chemicals that end up being dumped into our environment, becoming pollutants that ravage human health. All at the expense of the clothing on your back.

The dyeing and finishing process uses a ton of water too—making the textile industry one of the largest freshwater consumers in the world. It can take up to two-hundred tons of freshwater to dye one ton of fabric. In addition, the clothing industry closely supports cotton production—which requires a substantial amount of water as well. For example, it takes almost 10,000 liters of water to produce just one pound of cotton; a crop solely produced for textile purposes. Cotton production also contributes to water contamination through the use of fertilizers, which heavily pollutes runoff water sources. Cotton farming has already destroyed ecological resources such as the Aral Sea in Central Asia, where cotton production has entirely drained the water source. The destruction of our environment will only continue as long as the clothing industry continues to thrive.

Aral Sea

As the quality of the garments in the textile industry continues to decrease, the more clothing ends up in landfills. People are buying more clothes more often since their poor quality causes them to wear out quickly. Not only that, but people continue to purchase clothing to keep up with the rapidly changing trends of the fashion industry. All of this contributes to landfill waste. An average western family throws away an average of seventy pounds of clothing per year, with only fifteen percent being recycled or donated. Synthetic fibers such as polyester are plastic fibers, which are non-biodegradable and can take up to two-hundred years to successfully decompose-- which are used in seventy-two percent of our clothing. People are restlessly filling landfills with clothing that will not decompose during their lifetime.

Textile pollution

The Only Solution

The only way to keep from encouraging this toxic industry is to limit our financial contributions to them. The best way to do this is by refusing to purchase new clothes from the textile industry, and instead, find previously used clothes through processes like "thrifting." Thrifting is the act of purchasing used goods at second-hand stores, most commonly referring to buying and upcycling used clothing. We have 400% more clothes than we did twenty years ago. With more clothes than ever before, there's really no need to buy new ones when we can reuse the ones we already have.

Helping the environment is all about reducing, reusing, and recycling whenever we can, and clothing is no exception.

Emily Wass

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments