by Neha Talwalkar
Did you know?
Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Easy availability, affordability and ever-changing trends drive consumer demand in the fashion industry, which is cutting corners where it counts most–our planet’s resources.
Have you ever wondered what your clothes are made of and how they are produced? Polyester, Nylon and Acrylic (the synthetic fibers most favored by fast fashion brands) are basically a kind of plastic made from petroleum, which take up to 200 years to break down. Astonishingly, 63% of textile fibers are derived from petrochemicals; which means a lot of your wardrobe is probably plastic.
Every time we wash these materials, they shed millions of plastic microfibers, which are particles of plastic below 5mm in size and thinner than a human hair. These threads are so small that they drain out of our washing machines, and pass straight through wastewater treatment plants into our seas and oceans. There they persist indefinitely, posing a serious threat to aquatic life and us. Small creatures such as plankton eat the microfibers, which then make their way up the food chain to fish eaten by humans.
‘63% of textile fibers are derived from petrochemicals; which means a lot of your wardrobe is probably plastic.’
Natural fibers like cotton wreck as much havoc on scarce natural resources such as water. The water used to grow cotton in India could cover 85% of the country’s daily water needs, and yet 100 million people in India do not have access to drinking water. It takes 2,700 liters of water to make ONE cotton T-shirt; that’s how much water a person drinks in 2.5 years of his or her life!
‘The water used to grow cotton in India could cover 85% of the country’s daily water needs.’
And the carbon footprint is whaaa…?! Textile production is very carbon intensive and clothing production emits more greenhouse gases than shipping and aviation combined. Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. If nothing changes, by 2050, the fashion industry will use up 25% of the world’s carbon budget. And only once catastrophe strikes, will fast fashion finally be forced to slow down.
‘If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up 25% of the world’s carbon budget.’
The clock is ticking. The fashion industry must align itself with the only trend that matters – sustainability.
About the Author: Neha is a literature, classic rock and football enthusiast with a love for travel. A full-time Mommy Blogger, you’ll often find her reading to her daughter or looking up the best substitute to anything plastic!