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Wow! The fashion industry contributes to microplastics at sea

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Aside from being an emitter, fast fashion also produces microplastic waste into the ocean. (image: Anthesis)

Many people are willing to spend their money to buy clothing. Clothing is clothing that is worn every day, starting from clothes, pants, jackets and more. Not only as a necessity, clothing has become a trend and a way for someone to express themselves.

Fast fashion trends also adorn the country’s fashion industry. Many of the famous fashion brands that open outlets in the Indonesian market, even these products are produced quickly and sold at affordable prices.

Unfortunately behind the promising development of fashion saved a lot of environmental problems that not many people know. The textile industry as an industry that produces basic materials from the fashion industry is in fact the largest producer of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is also a contributor to microplastics in the sea.

Based on the explanation, Prof. Rachmat Witoelar, President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Control, the global fashion industry produces 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Plus this industry depends a lot on non-renewable natural resources such as oil to produce synthetic fibers, fertilizers to grow cotton, chemical liquids to make and dye fibers and textiles.

The Climate Reality Project Indonesia’s manager, Amanda Katili Niode, explained that, besides contributing to GHG emissions, the fashion industry requires large amounts of water in its production process. This encourages massive groundwater abstraction, and produces liquid waste that is often discharged into rivers so that it pollutes and degrades water quality because it has been exposed to chemicals.

“10,000 liters of water are only used to produce 1 kg of cotton. Imagine, the clothes we wear are produced from 10,000 liters of water. Then 85% of the fabric from the textile products goes into landfills or is burned. Even though there are a lot of leftover fabrics that can actually be used again, “Amanda said when met directly.

In addition to the marine environment, the fashion industry is the biggest contributor to microplastic problems. According to Reza Cordova, a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences’ Oceanographic Research Center (P2O LIPI), revealed that in the human body there is already microplastic from food consumed. But that number is still less than the microplastics found in clothing materials.

Professor Richard Thompson, a University of Plymouth Marine Biology researcher, as quoted in The Economist’s media interview also explained that in one wash, clothes can release up to 700,000 microplastic fibers which end up at sea. Synthetic clothing fibers such as polyester, nylon and acrylic come from plastic fiber materials. This fiber breaks down and breaks in the washing machine cycle. In 2000-2016 the use of polyester by the global garment industry increased from 8.3 million tons to 20.1 million tons annually (The Economist, 2018).

Reporting on the huffingtonpost.com page, plastic fibers in clothing can take up to 200 years to degrade and have an invisible but deadly effect on the ocean. Every time you wash, a small plastic fiber is released and is less than 1 millimeter long, making it difficult to filter the water. A pair of nylon-made socks left 136,000 plastic fibers. This small fiber has more impact on the sea than plastic bottles.

Seeing from this problem, it is better for activists of the world fashion industry to start creating a sustainable business model. As one of the largest global industries, the fashion industry has a very real power in attracting the participation and attention of consumers to start an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

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EcoNusa Foundation
All Rights Reserved