The fashion industry is a highly polluting industry.
And while most consumers know about how fast fashion is negatively affecting workers, our shopping habits, and our landfills, there are other environmental and social issues that need to be addressed too.
The WHO estimates that 20% of industrial water pollution comes textile manufacturing, which releases dyes and other chemicals into waterways in manufacturing countries.
Over 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles. The industry uses around 43 million tons of chemicals to dye and treat our clothing. There isn't widespread transparency on what chemicals are being used - nor their effects on human health and the environment. Workers work with these chemicals - and are not always provided with adequate safety protection, exposing them to increased risks of diseases.
Meanwhile, rivers in manufacturing countries are heavily polluted, becoming so toxic that they cannot sustain wildlife. Communities that rely on these bodies of water are at high risk of cancer and other diseases.
And once clothes hit our stores, residual chemicals can affect consumer health too. Odor-wicking, anti-wrinkle, flame resistant - our clothes are treated with chemicals to make them this way.
What We're Doing
Workers should not be risking their lives to make our clothes. Environments and communities should not be polluted to satisfy our shopping needs. And clean clothes should be readily accessible to all consumers, not just those who can afford to pay a premium on clothing. That's why Green America and our partners are calling on major American apparel companies to clean up their act and remove Toxic Textiles from their supply chain.
We're calling on companies, starting with Carter's to adopt strong chemical management policies, starting by disclosing what chemicals they're using to make our clothes - and their plans for restricting and replacing the most toxic chemicals. And once that happens, we'll keep pushing them to continue adopting policies that protect workers, the environment, and consumers.
Toxic Textiles, our new report, dives into the different social and environmental impacts our clothes have - and then examines what major American companies are (and aren't) doing to address these issues. You can check out our 2019 scorecard here.