Unfair wage and safety concerns in the fashion industry are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the true cost of fast-fashion. Did you know that the fashion industry is a $3 trillion dollar industry that churns out around 150 million garments annually?
With our consumption of “fast-fashion” at an all-time high, the environmental impact has never been more detrimental to our global eco-systems. If we, consumers and producers alike, don’t change the way in which we think, buy, and produce ready-to-wear clothing, the fashion industry will single-handedly destroy our planet.
Although the fashion industry comes in 2nd as the largest environmental polluter, it’s only behind the oil industry. The environmental impact of fast-fashion starts all the way at the beginning of the production of textiles. In Indonesia alone, nearly 5 million people and animals are subject to detrimental health effects due to the hundreds of textile factories that line the shores of the Citarum River.
The River has become a toxic wasteland as thousands of gallons of chemicals used to dye and distress clothing are dumped into it each year. Greenpeace states that when they analyzed the chemical compounds in the river, which included lead, mercury, and arsenic, no treatment for neutralization had been done. This mistake has left the river capable of melting human flesh, according to the highly acclaimed environmental organization, “highly caustic, will burn human skin coming into direct contact with the stream and will have a severe impact (most likely fatal) on aquatic life in the immediate vicinity of the discharge area."
If that isn't bad enough, they also found disturbing rates of nonylphenol's, chemicals which disrupt the endocrine system (the glands that regulate everything in your body) causing cancer and other deadly illnesses. These health risks don't just affect those on the river, either. These chemicals stay on the clothes that we buy and only dissipate after multiple washes, directly putting them back into our ecosystems. Oh and by the way--this situation isn't unique to the Citarum River, these chemicals are found in streams and rivers all around the world.
When the filmmakers of RiverBlue: Can Fashion Save the Planet, David McIlvride and Roger Williams arrived on location at the river Buriganga in Dhaka, Bangladesh, they were in shock. The sheer volume of chemical and solid waste dumped into the river by the many leather and textile factories was shocking enough, but the real devastation hit when they interviewed a local journalist who asked, "don't you see? you are killing us over here."
In Asia, it's estimated that close to 70% of its rivers and lakes harbor 250 billion gallons of toxic waste produced solely by the textile industry. When Greenpeace protesters tested the outflow from textile and dyeing factories in Xintang, Guangdong Province, China, they found five heavy metals in 17 out of the 21 rivers tested. Need I remind you, millions of people rely on these freshwater sources for drinking and bathing water.
The Filmmakers and everyone here at Swim Goddess, urge consumers to educate themselves and their loved ones on the true cost of the fashion. With consumer awareness, innovation, and brand dedication, together we can change the fashion industry.
Due to the environmental and health complications associated with these chemicals, the European Union banned the import of any garments produced with these chemicals nearly a decade ago. The US has yet to catch on, and these toxic chemicals remain legal, even though the EPA has identified eight safer alternatives. The list of countries outside the EU that closely monitor these harmful chemicals is short, including Canada and Japan.
Chemical waste isn't the only type of waste the fashion industry produces, it's only the beginning. Throughout the whole process, waste is created, from textile manufacturing to assembly, all the way down to shipping. Most of the time, fossil fuels are used all along the way. This isn't where the endless waste stops, either.
Americans alone throw away more than 13 trillion tons of clothing each year, and that number is only rising. According to the World Resource Institute, the average consumer bought 60% more clothes in 2014 than in 2000 but kept each garment half as long. What’s worse—only 10% of clothing that is donated gets re-sold or re-worn, leaving the rest to end up in landfills across the world.
That's why here at Swim Goddess, we only use fabric that helps solve our global waste problem; fabric made out of recycled clothing. We offer you the most innovative fabric around, that not only lasts 5X longer than traditional swimwear fabric, but we also donate 10% of profits to organizations that help clean up waste in our beautiful oceans.
We have become a culture of fast-fashion, with companies adopting micro-seasons to replace the traditional two, spring/summer---fall/winter, which ensures the consumer is constantly spending their money on new products, endlessly creating more waste without thought. So how can YOU help?
Pay attention to the brands that you support! Are they eco-conscious? What type of manufacturing process do they use? Are they transparent in their sourcing and financial information? Do they help fight the ugly side of fashion, or do they simply ignore what's really going on?
Swim Goddess is a brand that focuses on creating ethical fashion for the thoughtful consumer. We're not just about creating timeless fashion, we're about giving back to organizations that help fight the awful environmental impacts the fashion industry has on our beautiful planet. Join us in changing the industry, become a Goddess.