When you think of pollution, what pops into your head? Chances are you thought of a dump, sea turtles stuck in plastic, or car exhaust. Would you be surprised if I told you that clothing is the one of the biggest polluters? The clothing industry is also horrible for animals. If this shocks you I would continue reading.
Clothing manufacturing and shipping alone make up 8% of yearly global emissions. It’s also responsible for 10% of carbon emissions. There are ways to reduce these percentages, but the solutions might include giving up on your favorite brands. These unethical brands are dubbed as “fast fashion.” The definition of fast fashion is “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” Most fast fashion is produced in foreign countries and is extremely cheap. The problem with buying clothes (or anything really) from somewhere far away is the transportation. Air freight (plane transportation) is incredibly bad for the planet, resulting in 2.5% of carbon emissions. A few companies that use planes for shipping are H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Topshop, and many more. These companies use this method of transport to send products quickly, but the harm they cause to the planet is immense.
Cargo ships are also very bad for the planet. Cargo ships are the second fastest shipping method, second to air freight. They use disgusting amounts of oil and coal, producing loads of harmful greenhouse gasses. Not only are they reducing our limited supply of fossil fuels, these greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions increase global warming.
Unfair Work Conditions
These things are horrible already, but there is a lot more shady stuff going on behind the walls of the fashion industry.
One of these tragedies is sweatshops. What is a sweatshop? A sweatshop is a factory that “violates two or more labor laws,” according to dosomething.org. These factories have children ages 5-14 working for them with little to no pay. The conditions in these places are horrible, and the factory owners don’t treat their workers well. The laws in places such as Central America, China, parts of Europe, and India are easily negotiable for privileged people in places of power. There are many different arguments for and against sweatshops, but ultimately I recommend you do your own research.
When I heard about this one I was shocked. Animal testing is common in the fast fashion and cosmetic industry. Animal testing is cruel and inhumane. If you are unfamiliar with this term, it’s “…procedures performed on living animals for purposes of research into basic biology and diseases, assessing the effectiveness of new medicinal products, and testing the human health and/or environmental safety of consumer and industry products…” according to HSI. Many brands test their cosmetics and sprays they put on clothing. And they test them on animals. This is horrible for the animals. I don’t want to go into detail, but this is really bad.
Animals are not only tested on, but used for leather, silk, wool, and feathers. The conditions and treatment of these creatures is horrible. They live in tiny cages and are not killed kindly. Not all people who use these materials are cruel to animals though. There are ways to end an animals life kindly and make sure that they have had a good life before they die. The way that the fashion industry treats animals is horrible. Supporting and buying from these places is doing much more harm than good.
What can I do?
Well, for starters, you can look for more eco friendly options. Going to thrift stores or holding a clothing swap with your friends are great ways to find clothes. If you have the money, you can buy from small or local businesses. You can also educate yourself and other people about this issue. If we want to save the planet and help less fortunate people then we need to take action. This is our problem and we need to fix it.