The impact of clothing on the environment
In December 2009, the Danish Fashion Institute organized the Sustainable Fashion Conference for the first time in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, where 650 fashion sector professionals, experts, and NGO representatives were present.
One of this event’s goals was to create awareness about sustainable fashion at the United Nations COP-15 conference held in the same month. At that time, many of the world’s population needed a proper understanding of eco-friendly, vegan, organic, or sustainability.
In the years to come, the fashion industry has emphasized sustainable fashion, promising to accelerate and sustain the innovation of climate-neutral materials.
After realizing that carbon emissions are as important as climate change, sustainable fashion started to be discussed worldwide.
Nowadays, we all have become more or less aware of the impact of clothing on the environment. As a result, ‘sustainable fashion’ is widely used as a term. But what does sustainable fashion mean? Why did this idea become so important in the twenty-first century?
Sustainable fashion is the production of clothing in an environmentally friendly way, considering environmental risks.
In terms of clothing, sustainability refers to the impact on the environment from the raw materials used, to the processing of the garment, to the use and care of the garment, and the end of the garment’s use.
Manufacturing clothing uses natural resources and emits greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. According to UN data, the apparel sector is responsible for 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than aviation and shipping.
The World Bank estimates global apparel sales will grow by 65 percent by 2030. As a result, it is easily assumed that increasing production will negatively impact environmental protection.
The garment sector causes a lot of damage to the environment while collecting and processing raw materials. Most of the raw materials for clothing are being procured in a manner that ultimately makes the world unhealthy.
From petroleum refining for polyester to water pollution, soil pollution and erosion, and the destruction of forests to produce cotton are all examples of environmental damage.
Thus, the garment sector is not only releasing carbon into the atmosphere but also leading to the gradual loss of biodiversity, which is also considered one of the most critical environmental risks in the world.
The first step in making this sector fully sustainable is transforming raw materials. About 60 percent of the fabrics used worldwide are made of synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester, a type of plastic that does not degrade in soil and water.
Various studies have shown that these fibers release microfibers when washed in water, which pollute the sea, destroying marine biodiversity, and causing damage to our bodies through seafood.
Recently, there has been a growing preference for synthetic fibers such as polyester and viscose staples over cotton in the fashion industry, leading to shifts in global fashion trends.
The Bangladesh Textile Mills Association reported that in 2016, Bangladesh imported 78,208 tons of polyester staples – an increase of 11.39% from 2015 and 35.72% more from 2014.
Choosing natural fibers is undoubtedly the right move. But that doesn’t mean just because fiber is natural; it’s automatically sustainable. We also need to consider where the source of this natural fiber comes from.
Viscose or viscose rayon is an example of a durable fabric growing in popularity. This material is now used in everything from clothing to home decor.
Given the current situation, it is estimated that by 2030, the number of waste clothes thrown away yearly will reach 134 million tons.
Most of this waste produced from clothing is non-biodegradable fibers like nylon, polyester, and acrylic, which are different types of plastic and will.
As a result, consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable options. Also, brands are leaning towards it in tune with everyone.
We must start using alternative sustainable ways to sustain our habitat and live more responsibly. To ensure a better future, we must make sustainable development our primary goal. Remain in nature for centuries, causing pollution.