Urgent changes needed in fashion to minimize environmental impact

The fashion industry accounts for 10 per cent of global pollution. Urgent changes to fast fashion are needed to stem a devastating impact upon the environment, say scientists.

The fashion industry is the second largest industrial polluter after aviation and despite the widely publicized environmental impacts, the industry continues to grow. Fast fashion has a large impact upon the environment due to cheap mass-manufacturing, frequent consumption and short-lived garment use.

A new research paper from The University of Manchester has now examined the environmental impacts at critical points in the textile and fashion value chain from production to consumption, focusing on water use, chemical pollution, carbon emissions and textile waste.

Impacts from the fashion industry include over 92 million tonnes of waste produced per year and 1.5 trillion litres of water consumed, alongside chemical pollution and high levels of CO2 emissions.

Dr. Patsy Perry from The University of Manchester said in a statement: “We highlight the need for urgent and fundamental changes in the fashion business model to minimize and mitigate the detrimental environmental impacts.”

A solution to the negative environment cost would require substantial changes in the industry, according to the statement. A move towards ‘slow fashion’ would encourage the industry to focus on more sustainable practices, including the deceleration of manufacturing and an emphasis on better-quality materials which last longer.

As well as industry required to be open to adopting large-scale changes in practice, consumers also have a crucial role and must change their consumption habits, say the researchers.

Photo credit: think retail/ Flickr creative commons

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