“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, actually do,” Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said.
It is easy to get caught up in the glitz of fashion. But beneath all the gloss and the glamour, there is a darker side. Fashion, for all its pussy-bow necklines and seasonal must-haves, is now the second largest polluter on the planet, beaten only by the oil and gas industry. While it may feel like a stretch to picture a handbag as being nearly as destructive as an oil spill, unfortunately, the facts speak for themselves. Globally, our desire to always wear nice clothes and carry new bags is wreaking havoc on the environment.
An estimated 65 billion animals are killed every year for food, the leather from which is used for bags, shoes and coats. The waste from abattoirs creates lakes of blood that leech into groundwater, while the demand for fur coats and handbag pompoms leads to the annual slaughter of a reported one billion rabbits. Dyeing cotton uses chemicals such as alkylphenols, which are harmful to aquatic life, while phthalates, used to soften plastics, PVC and artificial leathers, are classed as “toxic to reproduction” in Europe. Azo dyes, the most commonly used dye compound, break down into aromatic amines, which are linked to cancer and banned in the EU. Sports clothing that has been treated to reduce body odour, often owes its magical properties to organotin compounds, including tributyltin, which can cause respiratory disorders.
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