The Weekly Journal | Sustainability
By Gary Parkinson - May 12, 2022
Rally For Sustainable Fashion
Save The World’s Water Supply
Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
The rise of “fast fashion” has had a significant negative impact on the environmental durability of our planet. Studies conducted by the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion show that the manufacturing, distribution, and disposal of fast fashion and textile products account for nearly 10 percent of the world’s entire greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). That adds up to more pollution than all international flights and global shipping lines combined.
It’s hard to comprehend, right? How can the fashion industry possibly be responsible for more GHGs than international transportation? It’s the nature of the fast fashion business. Apparel is not designed to last; it’s designed to attract people so that they buy more products and constantly yearn for the latest in-demand styles and trends that they can add to their wardrobes.
As a result, many items quickly end up in landfills or, worse, floating in lakes and oceans scattered all over the world. The disposal of these fashion items pollutes our global water supply, further destabilising the health and vitality of our collective ecosystem.
Textiles account for 9 percent of microplastic ocean pollution
When using the word textiles, we should clarify exactly what is being referred to when the word is put to use. Textiles are materials produced using yarn, threads, silks, metal wires, or synthetic fibres; many of these materials are produced through fossil fuels. These materials are weaved, sewn, or processed together in order to manufacture things like clothing, accessories, hats, gloves, and other fashionable items.
Textiles have increasingly been used to produce fast fashion products at scale. However, not all textiles are put to use, resulting in them being disposed of by manufacturers. Used or damaged textiles are also thrown away by manufacturers to avoid reducing the perceived quality of the fashion apparel itself.
The fact that so many of these textile products end up being thrown away into lakes, rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water is alarming, to say the least. This is one of the most alarming facts about the effects of the fast fashion industry.
Pictures of unsettling pollution like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean are the consequences of this haphazard approach to disposing of textile products. Think about how much pollution would not be piled up on the Pacific Ocean’s “Garbage Mountain” if those textiles were properly recycled.
Nearly 215 trillion litres of water are lost to fast fashion
Our global water supply is as essential to our collective well-being as the air we breathe. But we lose so much water to the mass manufacturing processes of the fast fashion industry. The UN’s Alliance for Sustainable Fashion estimates that nearly 215 trillion litres of water are wasted as a result of fast fashion manufacturing every single year.
Tragically, this alarming trend is directly felt by innocent people and animals all over the planet. In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) put out a report that said one in three people globally are unable to access clean drinking water. There are obviously a number of factors that are responsible for this humanitarian crisis. But think about how much water could be cleaned and distributed to those in need if much of the global water supply wasn’t wasted on fast fashion manufacturing? Could we literally save lives by reducing our dependence on fast fashion?
Fast fashion will use 25% of global carbon budget by 2050
Unless things drastically change, fast fashion will continue to diminish our planet’s natural resources. In fact, the UN Environment Programme anticipates that one quarter of our global carbon budget, which ties into international emissions reductions targets to fight against climate change, will be lost to fast fashion manufacturing by 2050.
If it’s hard to believe that number, consider this terrifying fact. The Alliance for Sustainable Fashion states that over 7,500 litres of water are used to manufacture one pair of fast fashion jeans. There are billions of jeans in circulation all over the world; how much of our water supply is wasted producing all of these products, many of which are either never sold or end up sitting in closets rarely, if ever worn by their owners?
Embrace sustainable fashion and help save our water supply
Rather than continue down an unsustainable path, many people are actively trying to change their ways. Canadians, by and large, are environmentally conscious in their own ways, and a growing amount of our population is ready to embrace sustainable fashion styles and trends. These environmentally conscious citizens are choosing to align purchases with their passions.
There are even a growing number of homegrown businesses that are finding alternative ways to produce Canadian fashion at scale. From digitized thrift stores to organic manufacturing materials, more Canadian businesses are leading the charge to grow and scale the sustainable fashion industry.
Wolfe Co. Apparel & Goods is one of these homegrown companies. Beginning with a retrofitted 1997 Airstream RV, Wolfe Co. took a nationwide tour to help educate Canadians on the environmental need to consume sustainable fashion over fast fashion products. The COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to that tour, and we put our roots down in the beautiful Muskoka region of Ontario to open a brand new warehouse and distribution centre.
Today, we produce all of our products in-house, support local design and manufacturing talent, and we’ve economically and environmentally conscious producers and consumers. We reinvest a sizable portion of our profits back into our local communities in the hope that we can all make a collective difference to preserve our vital water supply and help sustain the future of the planet for years to come.