It is practically impossible to deny the extent of the impact humans have on the global biosphere. A range of factors contribute to climate change and the intricate connection between these factors can be daunting, so we need to start somewhere familiar. To change the circumstances for the better, we have to understand how we, as individuals, directly contribute to ocean pollution, and 'fast fashion' of the modern age, every item, and accessory costs more than you could imagine.
This is the big picture
Competitive constituents of the market are all about the race to the finish line. This is why mass production of goods has reached its zenith in the 21st century, hardly a secret and mostly a problem for the environment. Efficiency is the name of the game, and introducing PVC compounds to the production of clothing has conjured up another terrible factor that contributes to the pollution of oceans.
Microplastic is the bane of our modern existence, and putting your plastic-laden clothes in the washing machine leads to the production of water laden with micro-PVC compounds that flow to the world oceans. Polyester, acrylic, nylon and other synthetic compounds make up at least 60% of our clothes, and the best thing we can do is turn to recycled and reused goods (and materials) to discourage further production.
When it comes to brands, you'll have to make a bit of an effort to research brands that are renowned for using recycled materials. Rockay Running socks proud themselves on their sustainable craft, which renders them one of the stellar examples you can inspect. Remember, every accessory counts these days.
This is what the numbers are
However, we all feel that itch now and then as we pass the local fashion store, especially if the discount pricing is plastered all over the glass. After purchasing some green-made clothes, you might feel justified to splurge a bit on fast fashion products, but the following numbers and facts might (thankfully) dissuade you.
The thing about clean water is that it is increasingly difficult to come by. While it holds that human beings can survive for weeks without food, they can only survive 3 days without water. Now, consider for a moment that it takes over 2,700 liters of water to make a singular t-shirt. A healthy human drinks that much over a whopping 3 year period without sparing a drop.
Still, it is the dyeing process that takes the cake. It takes more than half-trillion gallons of freshwater to dye textiles on an annual basis, which contributes to about 20% of global water pollution. If these numbers to not shock you, hardly anything will.
Ghost nets and the silver linings
And this is terrifying even if you have not mentioned ghost nets yet. The fishing industry is a sprawling monstrosity that affects global oceans in significant ways, and the ships themselves lose countless nets, which tend to float into each other by following the same currents. They tend to crate supernets that trap and kill marine life, both small and big.
Infographic source: https://rockay.com/
In the span of 8 years between 2002 and 2010, at least 870 ghost nets were retrieved from a relatively small patch of water next to the state of Washington. There is, however, a silver lining somewhere in there: the retrieved ghost nets can serve as recycled and reused materials to produce new and cheap clothing goods.
These clothes can cost (at most) 50% of the price that a new accessory in a local popular brand store costs. Plus, it contributes to the clean-up of the environment. Furthermore, we are looking at the increased number of online thrift shops that are selling eco-friendly rags exclusively.
It is not only a matter of eco-friendly clothes production, though that is a major factor. It is also about the overall wastefulness of the fast fashion industry that mercilessly exploits our precious natural resources and goods.
Changing fashion trends for the better and steering them towards more eco-friendly goals can be akin to turning a large cruiser ship by 180% in as short an interval as possible: it is a grueling, long and costly process that makes everyone on board feel unpleasant, but it is a redirection that has to be executed for the sake of all of us.