Pro Bodyboarder Joana Schenker portrait at the beach  for the cafe interview


The Green Edit by Jenah St. #2

Just how much Pollution are we talking about?


with Rima Mehta 

Fast fashion’s harm to the environment is no joke: it consumes precious natural resources, pollutes communities, and emits more greenhouse gas than the airline industry. Part of the problem is that fashion is a consumer of Earth’s most precious resource: water.  

This article is part 2 in our fast fashion mini series.  


FAST ROUND, WHAT ARE THE MAJOR ISSUES CAUSED BY THE FASHION INDUSTRY?

-  "Blue waters" exploitation
-  Fabrics runoff polluting the oceans
-  Massive Co2 emissions

HOW MUCH WATER IS BEING USED TO MAKE MY CLOTHES? 

Well, for example it takes a shocking 20.000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of cotton, the equivalent of a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. That’s enough drinking water for one person for nearly four years. Apparel production taps into the Earth's “blue” waters, the kind of freshwater that could otherwise be consumed or used in irrigation for food production.

WHY SHOULD I PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THE DYES AND TREATMENTS OF THE FABRICS I SHOP?

Runoff from textile mills, including dyes or chemical treatments, makes it into waterways where it accumulates over time and contaminates local sources of drinking water. A large part of the runoff is also microscopic fibers which do not biodegrade. In the oceans, these tiny fibers are eaten by fish, birds, and other marine creatures. They experience many negative health effects, especially a blockage of their digestive systems that leads to starvation. The French government just passed an Anti-Waste Law to impose washing machine manufacturers makers to install filters in order to avoid the diffusion of microplastics in the oceans.

HOW DOES THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF FAST FASHION TRULY COMPARES WITH OTHER INDUSTRIES?

Fast fashion emits roughly 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent annually — that’s 10% of annual global emissions, more greenhouse gas emissions than all flight and shipping activities combined!

WHO ARE THE PEOPLE MOST IMPACTED BY THE INDUSTRY?

The textile and apparel industries are big contributors to the global economy, employing 300 million people worldwide. In some low-income countries, textile work accounts for as much as 7% of all employment.

Fashion’s footprint spans the whole globe, meaning the industry can have many negative social impacts if not managed responsibly. Because of its time-sensitive, cost-cutting model, fast fashion often leads to human rights abuses in the value chain like poor working conditions and child labor. Fast fashion models use labor and materials in developing countries to manufacture clothing for export. In this system, lower income countries bear the bulk of the pollution problem, while higher income countries enjoy finished products. It is the producing country that experiences polluted waterways and adverse health impacts for the local community. 

HOW DOES JENAH ST. CONCRETELY WORKS ON REDUCING ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT?

Jenah St. bags are made out of a material which has half the impact on the environnement as animal-skin, emitting 50% less greenhouse gasses, requiring 6 times less water and producing no waste water. The material is Ecolabel certified, one of the EU’s most stringent environmental standards that looks at product life-cycles from raw material extraction to production, distribution, and disposal. Plus, the new Recycle Program is designed to encourage second consumption, while recognizing our desires for new and special accessories. 
Sources: 
WWF. Cleaner, greener cotton: Impacts and better management practices (pp. 3–28).
Landmark French Law will stop unsold goods being thrown away (2020, January 30) retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/30/france-passes-landmark-law-to-stop-unsold-goods-being-thrown-away 
- How Much Do Our Wardrobes Cost to the Environment? (2019, September 23). Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2019/09/23/costo-moda-medio-ambiente
Euromonitor International. (2016). Apparel and Footwear in 2016: Trends, Developments and Prospects. Retrieved from https://www.euromonitor.com/apparel-and-footwear-in-2016-trends-developments-and-prospects/report 


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We invite you to start a conversation with us :) let us know what you think about the article and topics you are interested in learning more about. Though we are not perfect we recognize it's a journey and our responsibility to improve every step of the way. And we’d like you to be a part of it! You can reach us via the contact form below or write to us at hello@jenah-st.com 


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More about Rima Mehta


A native of the evergreen Pacific Northwest, Rima grew up hiking and exploring the wilderness. Her passion for conservation grew after living in different contexts around the globe, seeing firsthand that a single action could have many effects for people on the other side of the world. Rima's work in social impact ranges from waste reduction and clean energy to financial inclusion. She currently resides in Switzerland, where she pursues a graduate degree in Sustainable Development and eats lots of (sustainable) chocolate. 


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