The Environmental & Social Impacts of our Clothing: Toxic Textiles Report
Here are some terrifying figures:
- Approximately 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile manufacturing.
- Less than 1% of clothing inputs are recycled into new clothing.
- Companies are legally obligated to pay minimum wage to workers abroad – but these wages are not high enough for workers to sustain a living.
- Due to a long and complex supply chain, the fashion industry alone emits 10% of global carbon emissions.
- 43 million tons of chemicals are used in textile production every year.
Achieving Circularity in Fashion:
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has proposed four audacious goals for the fashion industry to adopt in order to achieve circularity:
- Substances of concern need to be phased out of the manufacturing process, and the release of microplastics must be reduced;
- Clothing utilization, or how often we wear our clothes before disposing of them, must increase; 10
- Current recycling methods need to be improved – and innovative recycling methods need to be developed;
- Resources have to be used efficiently, with transitions to renewable alternatives when possible.
Toxic Textiles Report Conclusions:
- Americans throw away 70 pounds of clothes and other textiles every year
- Over 2,400 chemicals were tested, and 30% were found to be toxic
- Natural materials are sustainable: bamboo, tencel and hemp should be the future.
- About 0-5%-3% of a clothing’s price goes to the workers who made them
- 835 domestic workers in the USA are owed over $1.3 million in backpay
- How to spot a leader: Look for companies with goals and benchmarks to incorporate more sustainable textiles into their supply chains, and are not limiting sustainable alternatives to one line of clothing or one type of clothing. Companies should also be transparent about how they are defining sustainable alternatives