It’s no wonder that fashion comes at a tremendous environmental and social cost. A study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation claims that the fashion industry is accountable for 8-10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, way more than all international and maritime shipping combined. 

Approximately 60% of all materials used by the fashion industry are made from plastic, resulting in environmental pollution. Curious to know more? The guide will walk you through the negative impacts of fashion on the environment and the initiatives being made by big fashion giants to combat the ill effects. 

The Environmental Footprint of Fast Fashion

While the fashion industry is booming, attention has been brought to the range of adverse environmental impacts that the sector is answerable for. A few of them are listed here. 

1. Excessive Water Consumption

The fashion sector consumes around 93 billion cubic meters of water to meet the needs of some five million people annually, according to the UNCTAD 2020 reports. Cotton is an incredibly thirsty crop, and one kg of it requires 7500 to 10K litres of water. Additionally, 20% of industrial wastewater pollution worldwide originates from the Fashion industry. 

2. Climate Change

Around 70 million tons of trees are rooted out every year to feed the fashion industry’s requirement, and the number is anticipated to double by 2034. According to the MacArthur Foundation Study, the fashion sector produces nearly 1.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, resulting in additional greenhouse gas discharges. Moreover, the fashion industry uses tons of fossil fuels-based plastic leading to climate change. 

3. Produces Waste

The fibers in polymers are made of polymers. Washing and wearing clothes shorten these polymers, making them unable to turn into a new fabric. Less than one percent of clothing is recycled to make new clothes. As a result, millions of metric tons of discarded clothing go to landfills each year, producing harmful waste contributing to global warming. 

What changes are being made by big brands to combat environmental impacts?

Here’s the rundown of the initiatives being taken by the big brands to reduce the negative impacts of fashion on the environment. 

  • Patagonia

The famous American retailer of outdoor clothing, Patagonia, has taken impressive actions to promote environmental sustainability. It taxes itself 1% on every sale and donates this money for preserving and restoring the natural environment. They have provided US$100 million to grassroots organizations. 

Patagonia pledged to cut down carbon emissions by 45% in the next decade to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. 

  • The Pearl Source

This leading pearl jewelry brand contributes a percentage of every sale to not for profit organisations that support women’s issues.

  • Pact

This renowned clothing brand uses several eco-friendly materials, including Global Organic Textile Standard cotton, to design its clothing line. They are also Fair Trade Certified, and their manufacturing process follows the organic guidelines.   

  • Eileen Fisher

This luxury clothing brand is a leader in sustainable fashion and follows a complete lifecycle approach to combat the negative environmental impacts. According to Vogue, Eileen Fisher hosted the Green Eileen campaign to help subside the amount of fashion waste. Since it is a lavish brand, it buys back and resells its own label’s clothing so you can get it for a lower price in excellent condition.


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