Day 5: Dangers of Fast Fashion
To produce a high yield of cotton to keep up with demand the farmers have to use pesticides, which can cost 60% of the farmers budget which means many turn to loans for the funds. Unable to repay the funds, in Punjab alone, between 1990-2007, 40000 farmers committed suicide.
Many garment factories in the UK have closed and moved production to countries not bound by employment laws regarding minimum wages and hours of work. It is reported that sweat shops used by TopShop pay their workers only 44p per hour.
It is reported that 251 H&M workers in India and Cambodia were sacked due to being pregnant. Imagine that at a time when a steady income is crucial.
Despite being warned of the potential structural dangers of the building, On April 24, 2013 the world got a reality check when the Rana Plaza clothing manufacturing complex in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,000 workers and injuring over 2,500. Only five months earlier, at least 112 workers had lost their lives in another tragic accident, trapped inside the burning Tazreen Fashions factory on the outskirts of Dhaka.
These disasters, among the worst industrial accidents on record, awoke the world to the poor labour conditions faced by workers in the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh.
Millions of people, most of them girls and women, are exposed every day to an unsafe work environment with a high incidence of work-related accidents and deaths, as well as occupational diseases. Most of the factories do not meet standards required by building and construction legislation.
Fast Fashion’s negative impact includes the use of cheap, toxic textile dyes – with the fashion industry the second largest polluter of clean water globally after agriculture. It takes 2720 litres of water to make one T-Shirt – the equivalent of 3 years worth of drinking water.
Fashion is the second most polluting industry on Earth, right behind fossil fuels. The pressure to reduce costs and speed up production time means that environmental corners are cut in the name of profit.
An average UK washing load – 6kg (13lb) of fabric – can release:
- 140,000 fibres from polyester-cotton blend
- nearly half a million fibres from polyester
- more than 700,000 fibres from acrylic
Prof Richard Thompson, of Plymouth University, studied marine microplastics and discovered “When we sample, we find plastic fibres less than the width of a human hair – in fish, in deep sea sediments, as well as [floating] at the surface.”
The speed at which garments are produced also means that more and more clothes are disposed of by consumers, creating a huge amount of textile waste.
So what can we do?
Stop buying unnecessary clothing!
Easier said than done…
So if you have a retail therapy itch you need to scratch look for circular fashion. This takes it one step further from recycling or donating.