In today’s world, after the oil industry, which is the first and most polluting, comes the textile industry, which is often called the fashion industry (clothes, fashion…). The textile industry is not as beautiful as its clothing because it has a very negative impact on the planet and on the environment. The negative impacts are diverse: water pollution, climate change, human rights violations, air pollution, animal suffering and even food insecurity for workers.
The textile industry is one of the pillars of the world economy because of the high demand for its products. It was from the 1990s onwards that this industry had to create new synthetic fibers to meet the demand at the expense of natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk, furs) that were more expensive to produce (Esposito, 2018). The production of new fabrics was necessary to meet the needs of the growing population ever faster. Due to this new production, synthetic became over time cheaper and thus gave way to “fast fashion” which is a segment of the clothing industry using the models of major fashion brands but of poor quality. Indeed, fast fashion refers to the large-scale and rapid reproduction of collections available in stores but at low cost due to poor quality and precarious working conditions of employees.
The environmental impact of this industry is HUGE, we know that the textile industry emits 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year, more than air and sea traffic combined, and uses 4% of the world’s available fresh water annually (Belin, 2020). For example, the creation of a pair of jeans requires 11,000 liters of water and it will travel 65,000 kilometers before being put on the shelf (Brut, 2019). Upstream of this manufacturing pollution, we must not forget the production of raw materials (cotton, polyester, nylon …), the first, champion of all categories in water consumption, and the other two derived from oil, whose impacts are even more disastrous on the environment.
Fashion is slowly killing our environment! We need to make big changes in our way of consuming to limit this important problem. Consumers as well as companies must make efforts to curb the impacts of fast fashion. H&M, a major player in the textile industry and one of its main polluters, created a used clothing recycling program in 2013 with the goal of reaching 25,000 tons recycled per year. H&M collects the clothes and offers a discount for each individual bringing at least 3 used clothes, these are transformed into fibers that will be reused to enhance new clothing designs.
Even if the results of this initiative remain mixed, it is a great effort to reduce waste and should be adopted by all fashion companies to limit the damage to the planet.
Deputy leader of the Green Party of Quebec
Esposito, K. (2018, mai 31). Quelles sont les solutions écolo-socio-économiques de l’industrie textile ? . https://doc.rero.ch/record/323771/files/TDEE_360_Travail_de_Bachelor_-_Kelly_Espo.pdf
Leroy, T. (2020, octobre 10). H&M lance une machine qui transforme les vêtements en neufs en 5 heures . https://www.bfmtv.com/economie/h-m-lance-une-machine-qui-transforme-les-vieux-vetements-en-neufs-en-5-heures_AN-202010100119.html
H&M Magazine. (2020, octobre 8). Du neuf à de l’ancien grâce à Looop. https://www2.hm.com/fr_fr/life/culture/hm-inside/meet-the-machine-turning-old-into-new.html
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Belin, M. (2020, février 11). De A à E, l’impact environnemental de chaque vêtement bientôt noté sur les étiquettes. L’Express. https://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/environnement/de-a-a-e-l-impact-environnemental-de-chaque-vetement-bientot-note-sur-les-etiquettes_2117988.html
Brut. (2019, octobre 18). Jamy retrace l’itinéraire d’un jean. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9xoi7RSOwo
Le Dessous des Cartes. (2021, mars 20). Quand la planète s’habille. Arte. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XmhVgTr4Y0
Greenpeace International. (2011). Dirty Laundry 2 : Hung Out to Dry (No 2; p. 32). Greenpeace International. https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/7435/dirty-laundry-2-hung-out-to-dry