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10 Scary Facts About The Textiles Industry

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Fashion plays a huge role in our lives. Not only is it a form of self-expression, it is a way of communicating ourselves to the world around us and showing our social and cultural status. From the outside, it may seem like fun and games but the reality is far from that. The harsh truth is that the textile and fashion industry has many environmental and social problems that need to be solved.

Here are 10 quick but scary facts about the textile and fashion industry because it is important that people understand the truth about where our clothes come from.

  1. The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world. In fact, it is only second to the oil industry. It is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions!

  2. Huge amounts of water are needed to produce our garments which is highly inefficient. It is estimated that it takes up to 2,700 litres of water just to produce a single cotton t-shirt! This is because the growing, manufacturing, transportation and washing of cotton requires huge amounts of water. This amount of water is enough for one person to drink for 900 days!

  3. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally, only after agriculture. The chemicals used in this process can have a harmful effect on the environment and workers.

  4. In some countries, textile workers are subjected to harsh working conditions. They work long hours on little pay to make our clothes and they often have limited rights. This is why high street clothing is often so cheap because they pay their workers very little.

  5. In addition, some of these workers are at risk of developing serious health conditions due to the hazardous chemicals used in the production of textiles. Not only can it affect the workers it can also affect the local communities and cause water pollution.

  6. Over the years the industry has instilled in people's minds this idea of throwaway culture, and the idea of clothing being disposed of after a few wears. This is not a trend that we should be picking up on.

  7. This has led to a huge waste problem with millions of tonnes ending up in landfill yearly. Not only do people throw away clothes after a few wears, but many companies also send unsold clothing and textiles waste to landfill.

  8. Many items of clothing are made using synthetic fibres, examples include polyester and nylon. These plastic-based fabrics are derived from fossil fuels and therefore will take hundreds of years to biodegrade once thrown away. This contributes to plastic pollution.

  9. Furthermore, these items of clothing made from plastic-based fabrics release microplastics into the water supplies with each wash. These then end up in the sea and microplastics have even now been found in aquatic life!

  10. While all this information is slowly coming out about working conditions and environmental impacts, in fact, a lot of companies chose not to be transparent and share these things. Many brands fail to disclose their working conditions and supply chains, so do we really know if they are sustainable or not?

This only really scratches the surface of what goes on behind the scenes. But it is important that people are educated on it so that we can collectively start to make a change.

Whilst change is starting to happen at a consumer level, things will only start to change when the big brands start to change. There are loads of resources out there on how you can use your voice and question these big brands, especially on the Fashion Revolution website.

Here at Shiv Textiles, we are committed to minimising waste. This is why all our products are created using deadstock materials. We give these materials which were otherwise destined for landfill a new leash of life and spin them into new products for you to enjoy. This stops these materials going to landfill, helping to save the planet one ball of yarn at a time!


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