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That’s true. The more we buy clothing, the more we indirectly pollute the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Arctic Ocean.
It is true to say that people don’t want to giving up spending much money on shopping. They seem not to realize a fact that they are indirectly polluting their own living environment. One thing is for sure, polyester is the most popular fabric used in the fashion industry.
However, whenever we wash our mountain of clothing in the washing machine, polyester garments shed microfibres that add to the increasing levels of plastic in our oceans. As far as we know, plastic takes thousands years to decompose in landfills, therefore we are living with plastics everyday and may face serious health risks.
Such microfibres can easily pass through sewage and wastewater treatment plants into our waterways, and finally flow from river to ocean. Due to the fact that such microfibres do not biodegrade completely, they definitely pose a threat to aquatic life. We have seen a lot of sea creatures have been mistaking plastic wastes for food. Those are shellfish, salmon, sea lions, dolphins, turtles, whales, sharks, and so on. They eat the microfibres, so they absorb plastic into their organs. Once we eat them, our body will poisoned as well.
Another chemical element for clothing industry is cotton, which harms the environment at the same level as other fabrics. The negative impacts of toxic chemicals used in agriculture for growing cotton have been shown in a several documentary. According to a recent study, cotton farming requires a higher level of pesticide uses than any other areas of agriculture. This high use of pesticides is poisoning our air, water, soil, and ecosystems. As for negative impacts on soil, salinization is the considerable consequence we must face. If fields are flooded with irrigation water from time to time, salt becomes absorbed into the surface, therefore plants cannot grow themselves on these soils, and shortly after agriculture has to be prohibited by local authorities. As a result, food crisis may occur and inhabitants like animals, plants, and human will pay for it immediately.
For example, all processing stages of cotton production, which use large amounts of toxic and hazardous chemicals, are harming the living environment. They cause potential damages to the health of factory workers, leading to serious illness such as tumours, cancers and cerebrovascular disease. Obviously, the managers are responsible for this outcome a lot and they must pay compensation to employees if there are health problems with them.
Furthermore, many cotton factories are located alongside river areas. If workers use pesticides, the drainage water will return to the rivers, bringing with it both salt and fertiliser as well. Consequently, run-off of pesticides can lead to pollution of rivers, lakes and wetlands, making it contaminated for humans and animals to drink. This not only causes the loss of natural habitats for plants, birds, insects, and fish, but also damages infrastructures.
Despite the negative impacts on the living environment, we still stand a chance to prevent this thanks to the following solutions.
Both non-profit organizations and governments are trying their best to improve the quality of soil. They are fencing off remnant vegetation and saving the supply of water. In addition, they are carrying out no-till farming which has been becoming more efficient.
Last but not least, consumers can partially help drive sustainability through their purchasing psychology. Moreover, companies can offer more sustainable products to consumers and they must say no to fabrics and cotton. We, human beings, are sharing the same burden of protecting the blue planet. We depend on Earth life so we must be responsible for taking care of it. If we don’t, we might face the mass extinction like the fate of dinosaurs in the past.
After all, we are facing dangers and risks of environmental destruction because of the overuse of fashion products. Nevertheless, we are the most intelligent species on Earth so we will survive no matter what. That’s what I believe. What we need to do is take further actions immediately because time never waits for us.