The fashion industry and, especially, the model of the ‘fast fashion’ O fast and cheap fashion that has been implanted in the last decades is contributing to a great extent to force the seams of a planet that is already in a very critical situation. The worst part is borne by the producing countries, most of them in Asia, which support 60% of global production.
According to data from the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, the sector is responsible for between 2% and 8% of global emissions greenhouse gases. The dyes used to color fabrics are the second largest water polluter in the world. In addition, microplásticos of fibers such as polyester that are dumped into the oceans account for 9% of the annual total. Every second, the equivalent of a garbage truck full of clothes it’s burning or discarded in a dump.
At this rate, the report holds ‘Pulse of the Fashion Industry’, of the Global Fashion Agenda organization, the current addiction to fashion will cause clothing consumption to increase by 63% in 2030, up to 102 million tons of clothing. A unsustainable trend, according to supranational organizations and NGOs.
“They are cheap products and so poor quality they are made to buy and throw away. Almost like disposable clothes, “he explains to EL PERIÓDICO Mathilde Charpail, founder of Sustain Your Style, a Berlin-based organization working to move towards a more socially and environmentally friendly industrial model.
From the beginning
Bad practices start at the very beginning of the production chain, in obtaining the raw Materials. On Mongolia, 90% of the surface is at risk of desertification mainly because of the cashmere goat farming, which since 2000 have seen their herd double to 70 million specimens. Something similar happens in the Patagonia Argentina, where 30% of the territory is affected by desertification due to sheep grazing for wool.
As a consequence of the overexploitation of the fields of cotton on Uzbekistan, the sea of Aral it has been reduced to 10% of its original size. 50 years ago, it was one of the four largest lakes in the world at 68,000 square kilometers. And it is that to obtain a kilo of cotton, about 20,000 liters of water are needed, in addition to the pesticide and insecticide products used for the cultivation that end up contaminating the soils and causing diseases in the workers.
And in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, in the last two decades there has been a deforestation of tropical forests on a large scale to produce fabrics such as viscose, rayon or modal.
Countries with lax regulations
The ‘fast fashion’ business model started more than 25 years ago and based on the microcollections –Nowadays, some brands have more than 50 micro-seasons, instead of the two classic spring-summer, autumn-winter-, it also implied a change in the productive model. “The brands needed to make the increase in production profitable and they transferred it to countries with lower production costs, mainly in Asia,” he explains to EL PERIÓDICO Celia ojeda, spokesperson for Greenpeace. Some countries, he emphasizes, have much more lax labor laws and respect for the environment than in the West.
Pressure from NGOs and organizations such as the United Nations or the International Labor Organization has improved the situation, but it is still far from perfect.
Bangladesh it is the most paradigmatic case. Despite their efforts, textile factories continue to dump untreated waste and pollute rivers and canals, which at certain times have come to be dyed the fashionable color in Europe and the US. In addition, the main source of energy in these countries, especially in China, keep being him Coal, with which fashion production contributes greatly to the increase in CO2 emissions.
Another factor affecting sustainability is the large number of Water needed to make clothes. Per year, spend 1.5 trillion liters. In countries like the India, it is estimated that 85% of the water needs of the entire population would be covered only with the water destined to produce cotton.
At the end of the useful life
The grievances to the planet due to this unbridled production and consumption of clothing do not end with the end of the production and distribution process (which also generates CO2). Every time a synthetic garment is washed (polyester, nylon & mldr;) they are released microplásticos that end up reaching the oceans. According to Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an organization that promotes the circular economy, accounts for a third of marine pollution by microplastics. Every year, half a ton of plastic microfibers contribute to marine pollution and end up entering the food chain.
At the end of their useful life, most garments go to landfills or are incinerated, being also a danger to the environment. The main problem with the ‘fast fahion’ is that this useful life is getting shorter and shorter. A Western family throws away 30 kilos of clothes a year on average, and only a small part is recycled. In countries like Ghana, these wastes are already a problem of the first order, with the collapsed landfills. Every week 15 million garments arrive at the port of Accra, mainly from the US and the UK to be sold on the second-hand market of Kantamanto, one of the largest on the planet. But, according to a recent report by the BBC, 40% of the clothes are discarded due to their poor quality. In total, more than 50 tons every day.
The only solution to end this destructive drift is drastically limit production, coincide the organizations that fight for a change towards a ‘slow fashion’. “We would need laws that would say that production must be stopped, but today there is nothing so brave on the table,” says Ojeda. Charpail, for its part, highlights that many brands are rethinking the business to introduce more sustainable processes and materials, but without raising prices it is a difficult goal. “To keep prices low it is necessary to exploit workers and natural resources. Nowadays, with the technology that exists, it is impossible for a 15-euro cowboy to be sustainable. If it is worth 15 euros, something dirty has happened,” he underlines .