Every year, billions of tonnes of wastage and other harmful ingredients are washed into the oceans through the fashion industry which is an important player in the environmental degradation story. Should we follow the fashion trends at the cost of our existence?
By Abid Hussain Rather
Beauty has always attracted humans, so everybody tries to look beautiful. It is in human nature that everybody tries to look different from others by wearing fashionable clothes and following the latest fashion trends. Though the female folk take the lead in fashion and lifestyle males are not far behind in the race. Fashion trends are changing swiftly and this change has a direct impact on our society. As per research, fashion is going to be one of the main reasons for changing socio-economic and political scenario. Though some people are of the opinion that fashion is proceleusmatic in defining the creative capabilities of a society but it has also negatively impacted our society. Every segment of our society is trying to follow the latest fashion trends and those who fall behind have a feeling of inferiority complex.
The youth, who are supposed to be the main asset of a nation, are more obsessed with fashion and their ultimate goal in life has become to follow this unending race. The latest trends in fashion are diverting the minds of youth. They are focusing more on fashion than their career and livelihood. God has set a limit on every process of the universe. The secret of beauty lies within fixed limits and anything which surpasses those limits faces destruction. When we adopt unacceptable fashion and cross the limits, we are going to face ruination, because these trends not only directly impact our lifestyle and socio-economic system, but also affect the environment and climate.
Like all other industries, fashion industry is also one of the reasons for environmental havoc. During the last year, a special report was issued by United Nations in one of its conferences, stating that fashion industry is one of the main culprits responsible for climate change. According to the report, 2000 gallons of water are wasted for preparing just one piece of jeans, which is sufficient to cater to the needs of a normal individual for seven years.
“Beauty products like face washes contain non-recyclable, minute plastic particles which are very harmful to aquatic life on a large scale.”
The fashion industry uses 93 billion gallons of water yearly which can fulfil the needs of 50 lakh people. All over the world, the fashion industry contributes 20% of effluents that are harmful to water bodies. As per reports, eight percentile of greenhouse gases are contributed to the atmosphere by the cloth and shoe industry and if the situation will remain the same, the percentage may go as high as 50% in the next ten years. According to the UN reports, one truckload of wastage is either burnt or thrown on earth every second.
Besides the fabric and shoe industries, all the industries associated with the manufacturing of beautifying and decorative items are equally responsible for environmental degradation and climate change. In ancient times, natural ingredients were used to beautify our face and skin, but nowadays, different companies manufacture different types of face washes, shampoos, body lotions, shaving creams and shaving lotions for the same purpose. David Suzuki, a Japanese politician, has written extensively on environmental degradation. He writes in one of his articles that face washes contain minute plastic particles which are non-recyclable and these particles are very harmful to aquatic life on a large scale.
According to one report, 90% of wastes from kitchens can be recycled but 50% of wastes from washrooms can’t be recycled which flows with water through drains and rivers and ultimately find its place in oceans. Further, 27 billion plastic bottles enter oceans annually while more than 120 billion plastic products are manufactured by industries. To our surprise, 85% of plastic in the world is used by the fashion industry. 1.9 lakh tonnes of plastic is used by the fashion industry yearly and it is expected that 12 billion tonnes of waste will be thrown on earth by the fashion industry by 2050.
According to the statistics of environmental institutions, more than 10,000 chemicals are used in preparation of different beautifying items but only 11% among them are certified. It is shocking that 20% water pollutants have their origin from textile industries. Textile industries produce 1.5 trillion wastes yearly. According to the report of the United Nations, 20 tonnes fresh water is used in manufacturing of one ton of cotton while 750 million people in world are without potable water. According to the report, only 15% cloth in the world gets recycled or donated for reuse and the rest is thrown as waste and this waste makes 5.2% of total waste yearly thrown on earth.
During the last year, a special report was issued by United Nations in one of its conferences, stating that fashion industry is one of the main culprits responsible for climate change. According to the report, 2000 gallons of water are wasted for preparing just one piece of jeans, which is sufficient to cater to the needs of a normal individual for seven years.
Textile industries also use chemicals on a large scale. According to experts, one-kilogram of chemicals are used to prepare one kilogram of textiles. 23% of chemicals in the world are used in fashion industry. Most of the greenhouse gases are emitted from textile industries. Every year, 70 million barrels of fuel is used in manufacturing polyester which is an important element of fashion industries. Silk industry has been famous since ancient times in the fashion world. Every year, 70 million trees are cut for manufacturing artificial silk but only 30% of artificial silk is produced from these trees.
All these statistics are startling. We are deteriorating our environment in the race of fashion. We are degrading our environment to make our life fashionable. If we use these beautifying chemical items at the same rate, our rivers and oceans will be completely filled with non-recyclable wastes in the near future and the earth will become uninhabitable. Consciousness and awareness is necessary for saving our environment from degradation. There is a need for change in the business model of fashion industry. Textile and other products need to be recycled and reused. Similarly, minimum or no plastic products should be used in face wash and other beautifying items. As long as our lifestyle does not change and we continue to follow latest fashion trends, the fashion industry will keep producing items which are harmful for our environment. So there is a need to change our behaviour and lifestyle in order to save our environment. Above all, the government should formulate strict laws for manufacturing industries in accordance with the environmental protection guidelines. In the end, it can be said that we should not follow the fashion trends at the cost of our existence.
The author teaches Geography at Government Degree College, Kulgam. He can be reached at [email protected].