To anyone within the industry, it is no secret that fashion is a wasteful one. To consumers it is less apparent as many are not all too informed of the apparel production process. What has become news for both parties though, is just how dire the situation is. The movie Riverblue has catapulted the issue into the spotlight. And those who see it say this is a problem that can no longer be ignored.
It was already apparent that fashion, especially fast fashion has made the overconsumption of apparel the norm. Stores have new pieces drop weekly and the social media influence on fashion has made it the thing to have a new outfit for each occasion as everything is documented. This in addition to the lack of recycling options for garments has led to some scary statistics. According to the a report from the Ellen McArthur Foundation, some garments are only worn seven to 10 times and that less than one percent of clothing is recycled. It continues that,” one garbage truck full of textiles is landfilled or burnt every second.” Fashionista also furthered this sentiment by sharing that, “If this trajectory continues, the weight of our discarded clothing would be more than ten times that of the world’s current population by 2050.”
In the just released documentary attention is brought to how the garment industry is affecting rivers around the world. Conservationist Mark Angelo shows the audience rivers in China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Zambia, England and the U.S. and how they’ve been worsened by apparel production. In this article covering the movie, they express concern for “cancer villages” that are along these polluted rivers in Asia. These rivers are foaming with brightly colored chemicals and toxic dyes from the creation of textiles and heavy metals, a by-product from leather tanning. These are the waterways that sustain the life of those who inhabit the area and the movie shows that they can’t even keep the underwater eco-system alive.
It seems then what could be the solution if many of the countries that are hit the hardest by the pollution don’t have environmental regulations? That would make the responsibility lie on fashion’s shoulders. Luckily, many apparel firms are discovering new technology to create a more a more sustainable product development process. Others, such as H&M have started apparel recycling and promoting the upcycling of fashion. Bringing these issues into the mainstream is going to further propel these new advances and inform consumers that their choices can really have an impact, whether it be negative or positive.