Sustainability Issues in the Fashion Industry

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From an article called Inspirational Fashion Quotes has a quote from Gianni Versace, a fashion icon, and it said "Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live." (Hutchings 2017 15) Many people like to shop different kinds of clothes for their own style. The diversity of the clothes and their sizes are mesmerizing. The clothes are usually manufactured by mass production. Mass production is when a factory mass produce its products as much as they can. There is an article called Workers’ Rights: Labor Standards and global trade, it goes over the important facts about how to deal with labor standards and global trades. The International Labor organization was established after the World War I. This was to abolish unjust labor and children labor (Burtless 2001 6-8) However, a lot of people do not think about how much labor it needs to satisfy the consumers. According to Labor remains a wrinkle in fashion industry’s supply chain quotes:

Labor issues are material to the fashion industry because "roughly 99 percent of apparel and footwear sold in the U.S. is manufactured outside the country, typically by independent suppliers." This is attributed to the fact that apparel companies enter into contracts with manufacturers which have the lowest manufacturing costs – significantly lower than the United States. In Bangladesh, workers are paid an estimated 24-cents per hour, compared with China’s $1.26 minimum wage. Labor practices, from a supply chain perspective, become especially critical for this industry due to prevalence of "sweat shops" in these manufacturing operations. Sweatshops have been described as the following: "any factory which may have unreasonably authoritative overseers, dangerous and unhealthy (both physically and psychologically) working conditions, and enforces long hours with low pay." (2017 3)

This quote explains that there is unjust human labor in producing clothes, and countless people are being tolerated in their own workplaces. It shows that those people are not getting enough money for them to have a steady maintenance and time to take care of their own family members. S Nayeem Emran and Joy Kyriacou, from Oxfam Australia, wrote What She Makes Power And Industry In The Fashion Industry. In pages through 12-16, it talks about Forida’s story about working for a clothing brand called H&M. If she makes a minimal mistake she will get scolded from the ambassador and feel embarrassed. Also, she does not earn enough amount of money to take care of her family, so, she is unable to provide insurance of the mosquito-borne viral disease like malaria. (Emran, kyriacou 2017) In detail, an article titled “Work Faster or Get Out” Labor Rights Abuses in Cambodia’s Garment Industry, deals with the issues about abusive labor in Cambodia. In the garment factory, when a woman was pregnant and could not work, the Cambodian government cut off her payment and fired her from work. (2015 1) Furthermore, the Cambodian garment factory has a terribly poor working condition. So, the government would constantly fire and hire people very frequently. (2015 4) Also, in depth, in other countries they are using child labor for making clothes. There is an article written by Peter Milsom, The Challenges dealing with child labour in the fast fashion or “McFashion” garment industry states:

Contrary to popular belief, these are not teenagers doing light work or after-school jobs: they work in dangerous and dirty jobs that deprive them of a childhood and their education. Some 73 million of these child labourers are between five and 11 years old. The ILO estimates that at least 6 million children are in forced labour, with many making textiles and garments to satisfy the demand of consumers in Europe, the US, and elsewhere. Though child labour is forbidden by law in most countries, it continues unabated in some of the poorest parts of the world. (2016 11-13)

It is clearly shown that people would know about these facts and still have ignorance. This is a very severe problem that is happening in the world right now and the society should be more concerned and worried about it.

A quote from Sustain Your Style states, “The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world.” (2017 1) Clothing is very essential for humans and it is a necessity for them. However, sometimes they buy plenty of clothes and still want to buy more and more. This led the world into fast fashion. The summary of an article called What Is Fast Fashion? says, before the 1800s, clothes were being produced slowly for the consumers and after the Industrial Revolution clothes were starting to produce in a much rapid speed. The society called it fast fashion. (Rauturier 2018 4) This is when the fashion company produces overflowing amount of clothes by a cheaper price. (Rauturier 2018 6) There are several problems within fast fashion.

When the garment company mass produces cheap and toxic textile dyes, it damages the surrounding environment. (Rauturier 2018 11-14) For example, polyester is a type of fabric and it derives fossil fuels and shed microfibers, that will intensify the plastic level in the ocean. (Rauturier 2018 11-14) Also, the faster the company manufactures the clothes the faster the environment will damage. (Rauturier 2018 14-16) This will not only damage our environment but also destroy wild animals and their habitats. In detail, the poisonous dyes will stream down the waterways and head to the ocean and influence the marine animals. (Rauturier 2018 14-16) An article from Sustain Your Styles called Fashion’s Environmental Impact, has a list of the deterioration of the environmental pollutions that are damaging the Earth and the following issues and specific details are directly quoted :

Water pollution. Wastewater contains toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, among others. These are extremely harmful for the aquatic life and the health of the millions people living by those rivers banks. The contamination also reaches the sea and eventually spreads around the globe. . .(2017 2-4) Water consumption. The fashion industry is a major water consumer. Huge quantity of fresh water are used for the dyeing and finishing process for all of our clothes. As reference, it can take up to 200 tons of fresh water per ton of dyed fabric. . .(2017 4-8) Fashion and microfibers in our oceans. Every time we wash a synthetic garment(polyester,nylon, etc), about 1,900 individual microfibers are released into the water, making their way into our oceans. Scientists have discovered that small aquatic organisms ingest those microfibers. These are then eaten by small fish which are later eaten by bigger fish, introducing plastic in our food chain. . .(2017 9-13) Wastes accumulation. Clothing has clearly become disposable. As a result, we generate more and more textile waste. A family in the western world throws away an average of 30 kg of clothing each year. Only 15% is recycled or donated, and the rest goes directly to the landfill or is incinerated. . .(2017 14-18) Chemicals addiction. Chemicals are one of the main components in our clothes. They are used during fiber production, dyeing, bleaching, and wet processing of each of our garments. The heavy use of chemicals in cotton farming is causing diseases and premature death among cotton farmers, along with massive freshwater and ocean water pollution and soil degradation. . .(2017 19-21) Greenhouse gases emissions. The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions.The global fashion industry is generating a lot of greenhouse gases due to the energy used during its production, manufacturing, and transportation of the millions garments purchased each year. . .(2017 22-23) Soil degradation and desertification. The fashion industry plays a major part in degrading soil in different ways: overgrazing of pastures through cashmere goats and sheep raised for their wool; degradation of the soil due to massive use of chemicals to grow cotton; deforestation caused by wood-based fibers like rayon. . .(2017 24-25) Rainforest destruction. Every year, thousands of hectares of endangered and ancient forests are cut down and replaced by plantations of trees used to make wood-based fabrics such as rayon, viscose, and modal. . .(2017 26-27)

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Sustainability Issues In The Fashion Industry. (2021, Apr 10). Retrieved December 4, 2023 , from

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