There are many things in this man-made world, which account for a large number of GHG emissions. Climate change is real and it is being caused by human beings. However, we could have never thought that our fashion sense and the daily changing trend of clothes would be one of the major reasons for climate change and global warming. Well, to your surprise, the textile industry accounts for around 8% of total CO2 emissions. Who is to be blamed? Fast Fashion.
What is Fast Fashion?
With the ever-changing trend of wearing the latest clothes, there are websites and market factors that tell the people what is the latest to wear. As compared to 1980s, people are buying 4 times more clothes today than they used to. This frequently changing trend of wearable and ever-changing fashion is termed as “Fast Fashion”.
The danger of this fast-changing fashion comes at the cost of climate change. This is because every 1 ton of clothes produced, accounts for 25 tons of CO2 emitted in the environment from the cloth production industry. The biggest impact of fast fashion comes from Britain, a country where it is estimated that 2 tons of new fashion clothes are produced every minute. Thus, the country is responsible for 50 tons of carbon emissions every minute, just because of the changing taste of people in fashion. It is equal to the amount of carbon emitted by a normal car on travelling 1.5 lakh miles, which are approximately 6 complete rounds of earth. These estimations have been made by an environmental activist organization “Oxfam”.
CEO of Oxfam, Skandraja says “Fast fashion generates so much CO2 that it has caused a climate emergency. We cannot ignore the fast-changing fashion. Neither can we ignore the people who are working in the cloth production industry.” As a result, Oxfam has come up with a campaign where consumers are asked to not purchase any new clothing product in September for the cause of climate change.
Cost of Your Fashion Taste
Apart from being one of the major sources of carbon emissions, the cloth industry is responsible for water and marine pollution as well. Use of toxic chemicals in the industry and microfibers resulted from the washing of polyester gets washed away in the water and mixes with ocean water. Apart from this over-consumption of raw material for cloth production, transports and distribution of finished products account for lots and lots of fuel consumption and resource depletion.
Single jeans are produced at the cost of 4000 litres of water and every year 45 crore jeans are produced. Thus, around 1,80,000 crores litres of water get washed away annually in the production of jeans only. This much amount of water is sufficient to fulfil the annual water requirements of multiple villages in India.
Highest Contributing Nations
As per the studies conducted by the Global Carbon Project, China is the biggest producer of carbon dioxide as it accounts for 27% CO2 emissions (1000 crore tonnes) of the world. Followed by it, USA stands at 2nd (500 crore tonnes) with 15% CO2 emissions, European Union at 3rd with 10% (375 crore tonnes) & India stands at 4th with 7% of the total CO2 emissions (253 crore tonnes) around the world. Currently, 1.92 tonnes of carbon is emitted into the atmosphere by every single human being.
As per a report from Quantis, in 2016, the apparel and footwear industries of the world together accounted for more than 8 per cent of global climate impacts which is equivalent to 3,990 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The only textile industry accounts for 1.2 million tonnes of the total greenhouse gas emissions annually. As per Ellen MacArthur Foundation, this is more than the total GHG emissions by all the international flights and maritime shipping trips combined.
Where are we going with Fast Fashion?
The world is moving fast towards fast fashion and people are buying 60% more clothes than they used to in 2000. Around 20 new garments are produced per person every year. It means that clothes are having a shorter lifespan and get disposed of more often. This is resulting in higher relative manufacturing emissions.
On one end, the production of clothes is increasing but clothing costs have not risen at a similar pace, thus making them easily affordable consumer goods. On the other hand, the population of the world is increasing and the continued growth has allowed middle class expands to purchase more clothes and match the demographic shifts. Thus, as per the estimates, the combination of factors will result in 3 times more consumption of resources as compared to 2050.
A large portion of the global cloth manufacturing occurs in China & India as they are the most populated countries in the world and they rely on coal-powered plants. Thus, they contribute more to fashion-based carbon-footprints.
The Global Fashion Industry has an annual turnover of around 160 billion Euros producing 60 million tonnes of garments every year. This production is estimated to reach which could reach 100 million by 2030. Then, as per the estimates, by the same year, the cloth industry will produce 2.8 billion tonnes of carbon emission because of fast fashion.
The fast fashion has brought up several micro-seasons. Formerly, there were only 2 fashion seasons viz spring/summer and fall/winter. However, the fashion trend has increased the same to as many as 50-100 micro seasons and this is an important factor behind the increased textile production and thus increased carbon emissions.
If the trend and fashion keep changing at an escalating pace, then the outcomes will be unconsiderable and irreversible. Hence, the concept of sustainable fashion is introduced in the world. It
is a process where the fashion products, system and whole industry are changed to foster greater ecological integrity and social justice. The concept not only considers fashion products and textile industry but addresses interdependent social, cultural, ecological and financial systems. It considers the perspective of many stakeholders like users and producers, all living species, contemporary and future dwellers on earth. Thus, sustainable fashion is the responsibility of citizens, public sector and private sector, working all together to form a better future. UN is also making efforts to bring a change in this direction by the year 2030.
We must also understand our responsibility for developing a sustainable future by changing our fashion habits and help in controlling carbon emissions.