Water is a precious resource and yet, our consumption patterns point to the fact that we have no qualms in wasting it in this throw-away culture of ours. Our lifestyle has to be examined before we lose our finite resources. Fashion is seen as one of the factors that impacts global water supply. The fashion industry is considered by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), to be the second most polluting industry in the world, pushing 10 different UN organizations to establish the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, launched during the 2019 UN Environment Assembly, Nairobi this month.UN data on the environmental impact of the fashion industry shows that: 2,000 gallons of water is needed to make one pair of jeans; 93 billion cubic metres of water, enough for 5 million people to survive, is used by the fashion industry every year; the fashion industry produces 20 per cent of global wastewater; clothing and footwear production is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions; every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned, and; clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014.
Fast fashion described as the state ‘whereby consumers are offered constantly changing collections at low prices, and encouraged to frequently buy and discard clothes’ beleaguers Filipinos as well. For instance, even if we do not have seasons: summer, spring, fall and winter – we cannot resist buying clothes on sale by name brands. Even if our closets are bulging with clothes, the weakness for new fashion trends and ‘must-haves’ break our resolve to live moderately. Cheap clothes sold on the internet add to the confusion.
There are big name brands that are already working at producing sustainable fashion, some resorting to upcycling or exploring less harmful fibers in clothes, footwear and accessories. But even if they test and find materials that do not waste as much water, there will still be production – people will still have their closets spilling with clothes that are left unused for months or even years.
This is a lifestyle dilemma that greatly impacts the environment. It’s time to give this matter some thought.