Fashion Industry and Its Environmental Implications
Beauty has always attracted the human soul, so everybody tries to look beautiful. It is human nature that everybody tries to look different from others by wearing fashionable clothes and following latest fashion trends. Though female folk are famous for following latest fashions and life styles but males are not behind the race. Fashion trends are changing swiftly and this change has direct impact on our society. As per research, fashion is going to be one of the main reason for changing socio-economic and political scenario. Every segment of society is trying to follow latest fashion trends and those who fail suffer of inferiority complex.
The youths, who are supposed to be the main asset of a nation, are more obsessed towards fashions and their ultimate goal of life has become to follow the unwinnable race of fashions. The latest fashions are diverting the minds of youth. They are focusing more on fashions than their career and livelihood. God has set a limit on every process of the universe. The secret of beauty lies within the fixed limits and anything which surpasses the limits faces the destruction. When we adopt the unacceptable fashions and cross the limits we are going to face ruination, because these fashions do not only have direct impact on our lifestyles and socio-economic system but they also affect our environment and climate.
Like all other industries, fashion industry is also one of the reasons for environmental havoc. During the last year, a special report was issued by United Nations in one of its conferences stating that fashion industry is one of the main culprits responsible for climatic change. According to the report, two thousand gallons of water are wasted for preparing just one piece of jeans which is sufficient for seven year’s need of an individual, while as fashion industry uses 93 billion gallons of water yearly which can fulfill the need of 50 lakh people. World over, fashion industries contribute a total of 20% effluents which are harmful to water bodies. As per reports, 8% of green house gases are contributed to atmosphere by cloth and shoes industry and if the situation will remain the same the percentage may go as high as 50% in next ten years. According to the reports of United Nations, one truck of wastes is either burnt or thrown on earth in every second.
Besides fabric and shoes industries, all the industries associated with manufacturing of beautifying and decorative items are equally responsible for environmental degradation and climate changes. In ancient times, natural ingredients were used to take care of face and skin but nowadays different companies manufacture different types of face washes, shampoos, body lotions, shaving creams and shaving lotions for the same purpose. David Suzuki, a Japanese politician, has written extensively on environmental degradation. He writes that face washes contain minute plastic particles which are non recyclable and these particles are very harmful for aquatic life on a large scale.
According to one of the reports, 90% wastes from kitchens can be recycled but 50% wastes from washrooms can’t be recycled which flows with water through drains and rivers and ultimately finds its place in oceans. Further, 27 billion plastic bottles reach to oceans yearly while as more than 120 billion plastic products are manufactured by industries. To our surprise, 85% of plastic in the world is used by fashion industries. One lac ninety thousands tons of plastic are used by fashion industry yearly and it is expected that 12 billion tons of waste will be thrown on earth by fashion industries till 2050.
According to the statistical numbers of world leading environmental institutions, more than 10 thousand 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 wastes 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 access to portable water. According to reports only 15% clothes in 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 chemicals are used to prepare one kilogram of textiles. 23% of chemicals in the world are used in fashion industries. Most of the green house gases are emitted to atmosphere from textile industries. Every year, 70 million barrels of fuel oil are used in manufacturing polyester which is an important element of fashion industries. Silk industry has been famous from ancient times in fashion world. 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 of fashions. We are degrading our environment to make our life comfy and 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 earth will become uninhabitable. Consciousness and awareness is necessary for saving our environment from degradation in the craze of fashions. There is a need of change in the business model of fashion industry. Textile and other products need to be recycled and reused. Similarly, minimum or no plastic products should be used in face wash and other beautifying items. As long as our life style will not change and we will follow latest fashion trends, the fashion industry will keep producing items harmful for our environment. So there is a need to change our behavior and 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. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).