The fashion industry is a highly polluting industry. Experts estimate that over 8,000 chemicals are used by the textile industry, and there isn’t enough transparency about what chemicals are being used by specific companies or in specific garments.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 20% of industrial water pollution comes from the textile manufacturing industry. Wastewater containing the chemicals and dyes used in manufacturing textiles end up in local water sources; in some manufacturing countries, local water sources are so polluted by chemicals that they can no longer sustain wildlife. In some places, locals can tell what is the ‘It’ color of the year based on what color the local river source is.
Meanwhile, workers are exposed to toxic chemicals while bleaching, dyeing, and applying finishing treatments to textiles that will become clothes.
Chemicals in clothing not only affect workers, communities, and environments in manufacturing countries, residual chemicals can also affect consumer health as well.