In this article we are going to explain the relationship between fashion and wildlife. We look at how the fashion industry is one of the main contributors to the ecological degradation that our planet is experiencing. Every year billions of animals die after being mistreated for our clothes. But it doesn’t have to be this way, by being selective about the clothes we wear we can make a real difference and start caring more about the environment we live in.
The fashion industry is one of the least controlled and unsustainable industries and, although the social conscience and demand of transparency is growing, over hundreds of years, this has led to abuse and unconscious use of our resources, along with a lack of respect for nature. The synergy between animals and fashion has always been un-balanced, with humans often using animals for their own gain, whether it is simply for style or for functionality. A topic that was recently covered in the ‘fashioned from nature’, exhibition in the V&A.
picture form CouriouslyConscious.com, the dress is decorated with beetle wing cases
The fact is that many humans still don’t understand that the whole earth is alive: Water, soil, plants and animals, all living and breathing. Our planet suffers for what humans do to it, as we are now seeing from the effects of climate change.
Large quantities of water and chemicals such as pesticides are used in the production of fibres like cotton (when conventionally grown) “Cotton accounts for 24% of the world’s insecticide use and 11% of pesticides”. (Goodonyou.eco)
When run off water from the spraying of the crops, discharges containing toxic chemicals can enter public waterways and be fatal for fish. In fact, the fashion industry is seriously endangering not only the environment but also wildlife. Animals are mistreated every day for our clothes. What most of us don’t realise is that animal rights and animal suffering go hand in hand with ecological degradation caused by the fashion industry.
In 2012, Greenpeace International has commissioned a new investigation that delved deeper into the hazardous chemicals used in the production of high street fashion.
With the “Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up report” Greenpeace found in some garments high levels of cancer-causing amines from the use of certain azo dyes.
The emissions of these substances into water systems such as rivers, lakes and seas are likely to take place when products are manufactured unsustainably. It is said that you can literally predict the colour of the coming season, by the colours of the river.
picture from SumOfUs.org
But how do these chemicals end up polluting our water endangering numerous wildlife species?
Many global clothing factories flush hazardous chemicals from production directly into rivers and water systems, meaning that they enter public waterways, poisoning both humans and the local wildlife (if you want to learn more, we recommend watching river blue). “It’s estimated that around 20% of industrial water pollution in the world comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles” (Goodonyou.eco)
The sad thing is that when consumers buy these clothes, they become unwitting accomplices to the cycle of toxic water pollution. Washing their new clothes releases toxic substances into domestic water that eventually reaches groundwater.
It’s clear how, every time these chemicals are released into the water, several species become more endangered. From the fish, that have to live in toxic waters, to animals at the top of food chain, such as polar bears or whales. Once you remove one factor of the chain, it’s only a matter of time before it effects the food chain as a whole.
Picture from the Greenpeace report
This is not all. Wildlife suffers from the fashion industry also in other ways too.
Animal materials are vastly used inside the industry, but the process behind this use and its implications are rarely discussed.
Billions of animals are brutally killed every year for the clothing industry and tests. Mass production of fur and leather items has created a cruel system of mistreating and skinning.
The helpless creatures are kept in narrow cages, where they are mistreated and then treated for illnesses using extremely dangerous chemicals that can even cause cancer to workers.
picture from FurFreeAlliance.com
Nowadays, we have unlimited choices when it comes to clothing. We sure can be fashionable without wearing animal skins. A simple switch is to follow sustainable and ethical companies and push for better measures to protect animal rights and stop animal experimentation.
Based on our research, it is obvious that we need to be more cautious and conscious when shopping for our clothes, by making a simple switch and choosing organic fibres, we can prevent un-necessary polluting of vital water systems, which eventually lead to not only human degradation and climate change but the degradation of our wildlife.
This is an issue close to our heart. At Zola Amour we ensure that we only use regulated certified organic fabrics in order to be 100% sure that we are providing a sustainable and ethical solution to the current fashion industry offering.