Pollution has many ugly faces and one of them is very unfashionable. As Lorraine Chow in EcoWatch reports “the shirts off our backs leave a devastating planetary impact.”

china fashion industry water pollution die

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new report the fashion industry’s “take-make-dispose” philosophy is creating 1.2 billion tones of greenhouse gas emissions annually. That’s more emissions “than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.” Read how fashion is killing rivers worldwide plus our article: Kayaking the World’s Most Polluted River! (photo – RiverBlue)


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Things are getting worse before they get better!

Here’s what the report reports:

  • Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is burned or landfilled.
  • Annually $500 billion is lost due to barely worn and rarely recycled clothing
  • Less than 1% of new clothing is produced from recycled clothing.
  • Clothing is just not worn as long, 36 percent less than 15 years ago.
  • Annually, half a million tons of microfibers from clothing goes into the ocean, that’s the equivalent of one billion plastic bottles.


Incredibly Wasteful!

Stella McCartney a fashion designer and advocate for the green fashion movement criticized her own industry as being “incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment.” (photo – Stella McCartney and Ellen MacArthur)

84% of clothing discarded in the U.S. ends up in the incinerator or landfill and over the last 2 decades American”s clothing consumption has doubled to 14 million tons per year.


Changing Fashion Trends bring big profits and enormous costs!

The quicker fashions become unfashionable and out the door, works well for company profits but at a severe cost to the environment.

Many of the materials used in clothing today like, acrylic, nylon and polyester are petroleum based and when they end up in the landfill they take decades to decompose and even though natural fibers like cotton, linen and silk are better, the process of decomposition produces methane (a serious greenhouse gas). See our post: Life Beyond Plastics: How Yoga Pants Are Destroying the Ocean!

And remember the abundance of chemicals required to manufacture clothing, the bleaches and dyes involved in the manufacturing process, these toxic chemicals often end up in our waterways and oceans.

“The MacArthur report presents a roadmap for us to create better businesses and a better environment,” McCartney said. “It opens up the conversation that will allow us to find a way to work together to better our industry, for the future of fashion and for the future of the planet.”

ellen macarthur foundation graph fashion industry and pollution“Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting,” MacArthur said. The report “presents an ambitious vision of a new system…. that offers benefits to the economy, society, and the environment…We need the whole industry to rally behind it.”

neanderthal clothingHumans having been wearing clothes since we first borrowed them from animals and it is fun to wear new and trendy garments. I know because I have two daughters.

However, maybe we can do it in a better and more environmentally friendly way, maybe we have no choice if we don’t want to fill the land with landfills and turn the world’s rivers purple with toxic dies (purple just happens to be my daughter’s favorite color). So consider wearing your clothes longer, borrowing and trading clothes, recycling worn out clothes. The list can go on and on, all we need do is think before we throw.

By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network


See these Related Blue Ocean Articles:

Life Beyond Plastics: Bee Kind Wraps
Surfing Rides the Waves of Sustainability
Microfiber Pollution from THE STORY OF STUFF
Flip Flop Facts: Find Out
Plastic Pollution Solutions
In the Swim with Plastics Recovered from the Sea
More Ocean – Less Plastic. Join the 5 Gyres Ambassador Program
Your Next Pair of Running Shoes can be made of Recycled Ocean Plastics
The Ocean Bottle brings attention to our Daily Plastic Waste
Banning Throw Away Plastics


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