The world today isn’t what it was years ago. Yet, now we find ourselves in a very similar space as that of the early inhabitants. The early man worried about his existence from dangers like droughts, floods, meteors, and many more such calamities. Even with the availability of abundant resources, they worried about making it to the future.
I feel we have revolved back to the same fear of survival today. However, the talk of the town has gradually shifted from mere existence to that of a sustainable future. With pollution being one of the biggest killers, affecting more than 100 million worldwide, sustainability has become a need in modern times.
The fashion industry, for example, is one of the biggest polluters after the fuel and agriculture industries. In analysing the Fashion Industry, we have to look not only at their direct carbon emissions, chemical usage, and water usage of product production but also trucking and transport, metal smelting, leather tanning (and livestock for that matter), fabric dying, etc.
However, a bigger issue, as witnessed recently, is the huge wastage of clothes due to the introduction of fast fashion. Keeping up with fashion trends means that 85% of textiles going to the landfill dump each year. Fast fashion requires clothing to be made from cheap material, often containing microplastics, to reduce costs. On top of this, the clothing is usually manufactured in Asian countries, where most factories run on coal and gas posing another serious threat to the environment. The labor laws too are violated due to high production demands. All this has led the fashion production, currently, to make up to 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions.
However, is all lost? Is there still hope?
There has been a growing awareness of Sustainable Fashion products. Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. The need of the hour is to shift preferences from fast to sustainable products, not just in clothing but overall, keeping the bigger picture in mind.
Change in government policies and tax benefits towards the use of eco-friendly raw material can definitely encourage manufacturers to pro-actively use organic cotton that has the potential to reduce 46% of global warming as per LCA findings and reduce the use of polyester garments that possess huge environmental costs. However, we need to work hand in hand at an individual level as well because ultimately, we are the end consumers.
At an individual level, recycling and donating clothes, promoting brands with sustainable fashion lines, increasing the duration of cloth usage, and using recycled clothes are some ways how you can contribute towards a sustainable future. NGOs can be set up to gather and process old clothes to be used by underdeveloped countries at lower prices. We can educate our next generation to emphasize on recycling by leading with personal examples.
The world focus needs to shift, from fast fashion to sustainable fashion. From ignorance to awareness. Not gradual but drastic. Because fast fashion isn’t free. Someone somewhere is paying. And now sits at the cost of our future.
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