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Fast Fashion and Its Impact on Our Environment, Part 2 of 2

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On today’s program, we’ll explore other negative effects of fashion and what we can do to prevent them. Fashion is a thirsty industry. It consumes a huge amount of freshwater for cotton production, dyeing, and finishing clothes while many regions of the world are facing water crises. Garment manufacturing requires the heavy use of chemicals for fiber production, dyeing, bleaching, and wet processing. Many of the dyes and chemicals used are highly toxic but the untreated wastewater often flushes into nearby rivers, polluting agricultural and potable water supplies for people and animal-people alike.

Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest exporter of garments, accounting for around 84% of the country’s total exports. “The Department of Environment has already classified three rivers around the capital as biologically dead because of pollution.” A report by Water Witness International (WWI) found that the manufacturers of fast fashion are polluting water and killing rivers across the continent of Africa. Another major source of water contamination from the fashion industry is the use of fertilizers and pesticides for cotton production.

To avoid more catastrophes caused by the fashion industry, the UN recently held a conference with industry leaders at COP 27 in Egypt to discuss routes to a circular economy for fashion manufacturing, with less waste, less pollution, more reuse, and more recycling. Some companies have already made changes, such as US outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, winner of a UN Champion of the Earth award in 2019. Other companies are following the trend.

At an international gathering with our Association members, Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan) advised us to be wise shoppers to save Earth’s resources. “Just have the clothes that you need and not too many. Before you buy something, in any case, not just clothes, anything, just ask yourself, ‘Really need it, or not?’ ‘And how long will I need it?’ ‘Will I use it often or long term, or just occasionally?’”

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