After your shower, you most probably start your day standing in front of your closet debating what to wear. This was exactly the situation I was in. While picking an outfit the other day, I wondered how my dress was made and the journey it had made to land up in my arms. To say the least, I was intrigued and started my research to find out more.
Depending on where you buy your clothes from, the journey might be from the town an hour away from you or from across the globe. Increasingly, global brands have set up factories in South East Asia and neighboring countries, so that’s where most likely your t-shirt is from.
With increasing globalization and consumerism, there is a constant demand for clothing, change in trends and a correspondent rise in clothing companies. In 2012, around 2 billion t-shirts were sold worldwide.
The below chain shows the worst to the best clothing material in terms of environmental impact.
Hidden out of sight
A t-shirt consumes 700 gallons of water to produce, which is roughly 7 times the amount of water a person in the U.S consumes at home in a day!
The 2013 Bangladesh garment factory collapse, rocked the world and shed some light into the hidden costs of buying clothing from people on the other side of the world. Companies have set up factories in developing countries due to low costs. Workers here are often made to work in tough working conditions and paid meager wages.
After such incidents were made public by the media, several leading companies adapted health and safety measures while others hid behind claims of helping the people by providing previously non-existent jobs by setting up a factory in the country.
There is increasing pressure on companies to become more transparent and have a corporate social responsibility towards their workers.
As a consumer, it’s hard to make radical decisions and start buying solely from ethical companies, as it might leave a hole in your pocket. I urge you to however do some research using websites such as Fashion Revolution and become more aware of where your clothes from your favorite brand originate. Buying clothing made of organic cotton, natural based fibers and dye, bamboo and linen are some of the more environmentally friendly options available.
Donating clothes to the less fortunate is increasingly gaining popularity around the world and is a positive step to reduce your environmental impact.