Each year around 80 billion new pieces of clothing are consumed globally. In Australia around 500,000 tonnes of textiles and leather are sent into landfill every year. Production of low cost and low quality garments mean that we are consuming and disposing more than ever. Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, which is pretty scary when you think that the clothing and textile industry is depleting non-renewable resources, emitting huge quantities of greenhouse gases and using large quantities of energy, chemicals and water. Furthermore, in a world with growing water scarcity, it can take up to 2700 litres of water and over 120 days to grow enough cotton to make a T-shirt. This is of great concern especially when the production of textiles takes place in areas of water stress.

Textile dyeing is the second biggest polluter of clean water in the world, behind agriculture. Its estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used to bleach, treat, and brighten our clothes. Greenpeace has indicated that the most used additives in the dyeing and finishing process are dangerous to human health, marine life and the environment. Azo dyes which are widely used in the industry, when broken down, are carcinogenic.

With the price of fast fashion being pushed to the minimum it’s impacting people who depend on this industry for a wage. A report from oxfam found that only 4 percent of Australia’s spending on garments, go to the workers.  

What can we do?

We as the consumer can shop more ethically and sustainably. Know where your items come from and what its made of. Ask for greater transparency in the supply chain, which can lead to the ending of sweatshops and unsustainable fashion practices.