The fashion industry is very complicated with many different
stages. Just one garment will be made using various materials and dyes, will
have passed through numerous people’s hands and potentially travelled across
the globe. Unfortunately, we are going wrong at nearly every stage of the
journey – from the pesticides poured on cotton crops to the way in which we
view our clothes, continually buying new things but only wearing 60% of what is
in our cupboard.
The information below offers a very brief summary of some of
the main issues the fashion industry is facing. For more detailed analysis, visit
the web pages and read the books we name drop here.
The fashion industry has a problem with… mindset
State of Fashion Report from 2018 found more than half of fast-fashion purchases
are thrown away in less than a year.
- Between 2000 and 2014, Greenpeace reported in Timeout
for Fast Fashion that clothing production had more than doubled even though
consumers do not wear 40% of clothes purchased.
The fashion industry has a problem with… waste
- There is waste before a garment even arrives on
the shelf. In the State of
Reuse Report (2017), Value Village states that in New York City, where
there is very little fashion manufacturing, textile waste adds up to 40 times
more than what consumers in the district throw out.
- According to Safia Minney’s book Slow Fashion, about 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes in the
landfill in the UK every year. In monetary terms, that’s £100 million worth of
Economy discovered that of all garments collected to be recycled, less than
1% will be recycled into new items of clothing.
- Worn Again’s
research discovered that the global average evens out at about 20% of textiles
being recycled, so the other 80% has either been incinerated or is a landfill.
Basically, this means we fling out almost as much as we make every year in
terms of the raw materials that go into our clothing.
- It can take decades – and sometimes even centuries
– for some fabrics to decompose in the landfill. Fashion Revolution
Zine #002 explains that it can take more than 200 years for a polyester
dress to decompose.
The fashion industry has a problem with… the environment
- Peter Melchett of the Soil Association explains that it takes over 2,700 litres of water to manufacture just one t-shirt, which is almost four years’ worth of drinking water for a healthy adult.
- Safia Minney also tells us in Slow Fashion that the clothing industry gets the prize for being the second largest polluter in the world.
- WRAP found that the carbon footprint of clothing in use in the UK in 2016 was 26.2 million tonnes CO2e.
- The Ellen Macarthur Foundation reported in A New Textiles Economy that the fashion industry generates 1.26 billion tons of greenhouse emissions every year, which is more than the amount created by international flights and shipping combined.
- It is the fashion industry that is responsible for a third of all plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, states Fashion Revolution Fanzine #003.
The fashion industry has a problem with… working conditions
- On Wednesday 24 April 2013, an eight-story commercial building known as the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,138 garment workers (and rescue workers) and injuring 2,600. This is despite the fact that the day before large structural cracks had appeared and the shops and bank on the lower floors were closed. Garment workers were ordered to remain. Some of the brands known to have been sourcing from the Rana Plaza include Benetton, Bon Marche, Mango, Matalan and Primark.
- In her book Slave to Fashion, Safia Minney reports that in supply chains worldwide 21 million people are victims of forced labour. In Bangladesh many people work between 60 and 77 hours a week with no guarantee of a day off. Estimates suggest that 30 to 40 percent of workers don’t earn minimum wage, let alone a living wage.
- The Clean Clothes Campaign finds that the majority of workers in the global fashion industry rarely earn more than two US dollars per day. In addition, they have to work for long hours and still struggle to cover their basic needs such as food, clothes, shelter and schooling.
- Senior co-ordinator of Nari Shakti Manch, Elizabeth Khumallambam supports women and migrant workers in India. She explains that sexual harassment is one of the main reasons women cite for leaving their jobs.
- Erica Van Doorn, director of the Fair Wear Foundation tells Safia Minney in Slave to Fashion: “Many brands state that they cannot pass on wage increases to consumers because of the fierce competition, but they have mark-down sales of 30-40% on clothing. They should try to reduce this instead, and pay the workers a living wage.”
The True Cost, feature film about the state of the fashion
industry – https://truecostmovie.com
Unravel, short documentary about recycling in India –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOOI5LbQ9B8
Love your Clothes – https://www.loveyourclothes.org.uk
Traid – https://www.traid.org.uk