In today's world, after the oil industry, which is the first and most polluting, comes the textile industry, often referred to as the fashion industry. The textile industry is not as beautiful as clothes, because it has a very negative impact on the planet, on the environment. The negative impacts are manifold: water pollution, climate change, human rights violations, air pollution, animal suffering and even food insecurity for workers.

The textile industry is one of the pillars of the global economy, due to the high demand for its products. From the 90s onwards, this industry had to create new synthetic fibers to satisfy demand, at the expense of natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk, furs), which were more expensive to produce (Esposito, 2018). The production of new fabrics was necessary to meet the needs of the growing population ever faster. As a result of this new production, synthetics became less expensive over time, giving way to "fast fashion", a segment of the clothing industry that uses low-quality models from major fashion brands. Indeed, fast fashion refers to the large-scale, rapid reproduction of collections available in stores, but at low cost due to poor quality and precarious working conditions for employees.

The environmental impact of this industry is HUGE: we know that the textile industry emits 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, more than air and sea traffic combined, and uses 4% of the world's available freshwater annually (Belin, 2020). For example, the creation of a pair of jeans requires 11,000 liters of water, and they travel 65,000 kilometers before being put on the shelves (Brut, 2019). Upstream of this manufacturing pollution, we mustn't forget the production of raw materials (cotton, polyester, nylon...), the first of which is the all-time champion in water consumption, while the other two are petroleum derivatives whose impact on the environment is all the more disastrous. 

Fashion is slowly killing our environment! Major changes in the way we consume are needed to limit this major problem. Consumers and companies alike must make efforts to curb the impact of fast fashion. H&M, a major player in the textile industry and one of its main polluters, set up a used-clothing recycling program in 2013 with the aim of reaching 25,000 tons recycled per year. H&M collects the clothes and offers a discount for each individual bringing in at least 3 used garments, which are transformed into fibers that can be reused to create new clothing designs. 

Even if the results of this initiative remain mixed, it's a fine effort to reduce waste and should be adopted by all fashion companies to limit damage to the planet. 


Halimatou Bah

Deputy Leader of the Quebec Green Party



Esposito, K. (2018, May 31).  What are the textile industry's eco-socio-economic solutions? . 

Leroy, T. (2020, October 10).  H&M launches a machine that turns clothes into new clothes in 5 hours . 

H&M Magazine. (2020, October 8).  From new to old thanks to Looop. 

Ramarques, M. (2021, February 4).  H&M your clothes pay off - 15% . 

Belin, M. (2020, February 11). From A to E, the environmental impact of each garment will soon be noted on the labels.. L'Express. 

Gross. (2019, October 18). Jamy traces the itinerary of a pair of jeans. 

Le Dessous des Cartes (2021, March 20). When the planet gets dressed. Arte. 

Greenpeace International. (2011). Dirty Laundry 2: Hung Out to Dry (No 2; p. 32). Greenpeace International. 




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