Fashion: A hub of pollution



We all love fashion, okay maybe some of us more than others. But do you know that it is ranked one of the top industries that contribute greatly to pollution?

Clothes give us a sense of style, comfort and it is a very vital way of expressing one's individuality.

Talk about hiding our nakedness. Lakini Eve if only you didn't eat the damn apple, we wouldn't be in this quagmire called pollution because tungekuwa tu bilaz. 

According to this detailed report (Its a 150 pager, please make time and read it especially if you are into textile) by the Ellen Macarthur foundation, whose focus is majorly on clothes - production and underutilisation- , we see the full effect of this very lucrative business. *Below excerpt image shows growth till 2015*

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Globally, the clothing industry is worth an estimate of USD 1.3 trillion and employs more than 300 million people along the value chain; the production of cotton alone accounts for almost 7% of all employment in some low-income countries. Clothing represents more than 60% of the total textiles used and is expected to remain the largest application. In the last 15 years, clothing production has approximately doubled driven by a growing middle-class population across the globe and increased per capita sales in mature economies. The latter rise is mainly due to the ‘fast fashion’ phenomenon, with quicker turnaround of new styles, increased number of collections offered per year, and – often – lower prices.

Since the textile industry comprises of several different stages of production, pollution happens in many different ways depending on; the processes used, the level of technology used to produce fabric, the type of textile facility, the type of chemicals used etc.

Below is a projection to 2050 regarding pollution;



Lets pick our cups of tea,coffee or anything with a % and note below while sipping;

  • The industry emits greenhouse gas amounting to 1.2B tonnes a year! (Reportedly more that the flights and maritime shipping combined)
  • Production of 1 Kg of Fabric equals 200ltrs of water!
  • Do you know that cotton consumes at least 5000 gallons or 19,000 litres of water to produce just one t-shirt.
  • Oil based fibres, like polyester and nylon, constitute the largest majority of fibres produced in the textile industry and these fibres are quite energy and chemical hungry.
  • When you get to later stages like the dyeing and bleaching processes, enormous amounts of chemicals and water are again used. It is estimated that about 1 million tons of chemical dyes are used every year.
  • The textile industry also produces lots of solid waste which ends up in landfills and water bodies, which can cause environmental issues. Globally, each year, about 90 million items of clothing end up in landfills.

    Some of the pollutants that end up in landfills include;

  • Fibre lint, fibre scraps, trimmings and packaging waste produced in the fibre preparation, slashing/sizing, weaving, knitting and tufting processes
  • Vegetable matter, waxes, dirt, and wool produced in wool fabrication processes
  • Paper and paper sheets, scrap metals, oily rags general domestic waste used and produced in domestic textile workshops
  • Wasted and retained sludge in waste water treatment
  • Flock, chemical and dye containers used in dyeing and finishing of woven fabrics and so on
  • When solid waste pollution ends up in landfills, over time, it begins to let off methane into the environment which directly contributes towards global warming

Whats the way foward? Question is even, HOW CAN YOU RECYCLE CLOTHES?

 And if you are too lazy, watch the video below;   

And if you are too lazy, watch the video below;


Stay chic, remember to be creative and recycle clothes, be innovative. Lets protect OUR planet collectively. Do your part and create awareness.