Who do we want to be? Cowboys or Spaceman? Do we want to be on the side that solves the fashion industry environmental impact? Or do we want to be a heartless human who doesn’t think about those coming tomorrow?
In the twentieth century the mass market was born, bringing with it a production boom that triggered unparalleled growth. Following this trend, development of the industry focused on increasing production volume, lowering prices and accelerating the turnover rate of these products.
This growth in production and consumption has brought environmental consequences, including deforestation, contamination of rivers, greenhouse effect and a constant threat to species.
Unlike the petroleum industry and all its derivatives that fashion industry environmental impact is generally known, few are aware of how polluting the fashion industry is and how many natural resources are consumed in its production.
To better explain this phenomenon, we will rely on the work of Boulding, who defined the open economy as the “Cowboy Economy” and the future closed economy as the “Spaceman Economy”. According to Boulding, “the cowboy being symbolic of the illimitable plains and also associated with reckless, exploitative, romantic, and violent behaviour, which is characteristic of open societies”. The closed economy of the future might similarly be called the “spaceman” economy, in which the earth has become “a single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything, either for extraction or for pollution, and in which, therefore, man must find his place in a cyclical ecological system which is capable of continuous reproduction of material form even though it cannot escape having inputs of energy”
Thus, it becomes crucial to analyze in greater detail the impact of the fashion industry on the ecological system.
The amount of water used during the production of a T-shirt is irrefutable proof of the negative impact of this industry. A T-shirt requires an average of 2,700 liters of water, the same amount an average person consumes over a 3 year period. However, of all the textiles the one that consumes more water is jeans, requiring 11,000 liters to produce one pair.
This excessive use of our natural resources in a hydrological system, has increased and continues increasing the contamination of waters by chemical products such as fertilizers. The largest textile factories are located in countries with cheap manual labor, where there is little or no environmental control or regulations. An example of this is China where, according to various studies, about 80% of its water is contaminated. However, it has recently been overtaken by India, where the Yamuna River has become the most polluted river in the world, unable to withstand any kind of aquatic life.
Is it sustainable to continue to consume water in this way?
How can we reduce our impact on the environment?
Lets’ start now, with Jeans.