In most of the countries in which garments are produced, untreated toxic liquids from textile factories are often dumped directly into the local waterways. An estimated 20 % of water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment, according to the World Bank. These toxic liquids contain substances such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, among others too. These are all extremely harmful not only for aquatic life, but the increased risk of contaminating local waterways for local communities who rely on local water for eating, drinking and cleaning. These contaminated waterways make their way to the seas and eventually spread all around the globe.
How to combat water pollution - Where possible, purchase organic and natural fibers as these do not require the harsh toxic chemicals to be produced.
Every time a synthetic garment is washed (an item made from or includes polyester or nylon) thousands of microscopic plastic microfibers are shed, and make their way into our waterways. Scientists have discovered that small organisms in our oceans ingest these microfibers, which are consequently eaten by small fish, these then make their way into our food chain. The University of California at Santa Barbara stated that “on average, synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash.” and more than 4,500 fibers can be released per gram of clothing per wash, according to preliminary data from the Plastic Soup Foundation. This is the shocking reality of the rise of plastic fibres in our clothing!
Clothing has become more and more disposable, as the accessibility increases and cost decreases. As a result, we generate more and more textile waste each year around the globe. Around 60% of all clothing made is not used, and only 15% is recycled or donated, and the rest goes directly to the landfill or is incinerated, a recent study from the World Bank found. The issue with throwing away so many clothes, is the time they take to decompose and the toxins they release in the process. Landfills are becoming overcrowded and filled with harmful chemicals. Every tonne of discarded textiles that is reused or recycled can save up to 11 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
To conclude this series, I’d like to give a huge thank you to the team at Wolf & Badger for partnering with me to share insight into different elements of the sustainability movement. See below for my favourite brands stocked at Wolf and Badger that prioritise the environment:
All photographs taken at Wolf & Badger Studios. For more information about the photographs go to wolfandbadgerstudios.com