In most cases when we think of pollution very rarely do we spare a moment or two to think of ecological footprints of the shoes on our feet, the cap on our heads nor the shirts on our backs (Claudio). Instead, all we think of is the raw sewage piped into our watercourses; we envision the emissions from the textile and coal industries, our bare-stripped forested landscapes, and the municipal wastes piling on our streets and landfills (Sweeney). The bitter and unfortunate truth, however, is that the overall impact of the apparel industry on our plant is quite grim (Earth911). The fashion industry is a complicated global enterprise that involves long and varied supply chains of raw material extraction, textile manufacture, clothing shipping, retail, and use, and the ultimate disposal of the apparel. Although these processes are difficult to quantify, they have tremendous carbon footprint on our planet. It is therefore not only imperative to take into account the ecological impact of garment production, but not to be oblivious of the apparent pollutants associated with the fashion industry such as the toxic dyes used in clothing manufacturing and the pesticides used in the farming of cotton (Claudio; Sweeney). There is also the issue of the extravagant use of natural resources during such processes as resource extraction, farming, manufacturing, and shipping (Sweeney).
In the Patagonia Recycling article, several environmental issues of the clothing industry are discussed. First, while cotton, particularly the organic cotton might seem like a smart choice for natural fiber production, cotton is a very water intensive crop. Moreover, cotton is also pesticide-intensive with the vast amounts of chemicals used in the creation of cotton fiber finding ways into the natural environment compromising the integrity, viability, and health of both humans and wildlife. Secondly, other sources of natural fiber such as leather have the polluting tanning and dyeing processes (Earth911). Thirdly, the man-made (synthetic) fibers while not as water-intensive as their organic counterparts are, they often have environmental concerns with sustainability and manufacturing pollution. For example, synthetic fibers are not only easily biodegradable but have low rates of recycling as well. Besides, the petrochemicals used to manufacture synthetic fibers are energy intensive, and their manufacturing processes produce gaseous pollutants such as Nitro Dioxide – a Greenhouse gas (GHGs) 310 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide (Earth911). Lastly, the increasing global demand for apparels and trends in fashion retail is creating extreme demands for cheap and quick clothes that in turn requires the higher production of cotton. Increasing cotton demands then takes up large proportions of agricultural land and stir demand for agricultural space. The environmental impacts of this stem from the spin-off effects associated with vegetation clearing, the toll of chemical defoliants used to aid the mechanical cotton harvesting, and the development of genetically modified cotton (Sweeney).
In light of the above issues deriving from the environmental impacts of the fashion industry, I would buy clothing made from recycled materials for several reasons. First, garments from recycling reduce the overreliance and dependence on petroleum extraction thus eliminating the need for fossil raw materials (Earth911). Second, recycling help to both eliminate and reduce the harmful emissions from the incineration of wastes, reduces the need for new non-renewable raw materials, and saves space in landfills (Earth911). Lastly, I would use clothing from recycled materials to support the noble causes started by such environmental stewardship initiatives as Patagonia. While some of the issues raised in the article are new such as the GHG potency of Nitrous Oxide, a good number of them are not new such as the environmental impacts of synthetics.
Bottled water also presents significant environment and economic challenges. Environmentally, the manufacturing of bottles to meet the American demand for bottled water consumes a large amount of the non-renewable oil besides consuming significant amounts of power. Moreover, the recycling rates of plastic water bottles are very low meaning that much of used bottles are not recycled. Most of them thus end up in landfills polluting the environment in the process. Economically, the cost of meeting the recommended eight glass of water per day is proving costly to most Americans. For instance, other than paying the $.49 per year on tap water rates, a bottled water consumer spends about $1,400 per year on the same (Ban the Bottle). Furthermore, the health costs associated with antinomy found in PET plastic bottles can be overwhelming to most people. Antimony has been found to cause humans dizziness and depressions in small doses and death in larger doses (Ban the Bottle). Therefore, ditching bottled water can help keep Mother Nature green and the wallets of most people healthier. Another important information from the article is that contrary to popular opinion about bottled water, purified municipal water is not of higher quality, cleaner, and better-tasting as commonly held.
Despite these shortcomings, however, bottled water comes with a few pros to tap water. Bottled water provides most people with a convenient, portable, and sanitary way to drink water (Nestle Waters). Bottled water also come in handy for people on the go and provide for travelers a calorie-free choice other than soda or other sugary drinks for quenching their thirst. The bottled water has, therefore, gave to most Americans either at home or on the go a healthy choice for hydration (Nestle Waters).
Other than plastics, nylon, and polyesters, several materials are easily recyclables. One such material is the e-wastes such as mobile phones whose individual components are highly recyclable by utilizing take-backs, donations, or mail-in-programs. What I did not know about recycling cell phones is that there are companies that can buy old cell phones and other accessories like headphones. Now that I am aware of this information, I will recycle my old or obsolete phones, their parts, and other electronics partly to get a refund on the monetary worth of the device. In this perspective some of the personal choices I can make to reduce the amount of trash I contribute to the waste stream include boycotting plastic water and switching to the reusable kind and donating old clothes to people in need or in Goodwill stores. Additionally, I will purpose to buy food that requires less disposable wastes in the form of packaging and re-use the old shopping bags for maximum efficiency. I will also save food leftovers for the next day other than throwing them away. Most importantly, I will consider buying products made from recycled items.
Ban the Bottle. "Bottled Water Facts." Ban the Bottle | A Blog Devoted to Banning Plastic Water Bottles & Staying Hydrated. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2016. <https://www.banthebottle.net/bottled-water-facts/>.
Claudio, Luz. "Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry." Environ Health Perspect 115.9 (2007): A449-A454. NCBI. Web. 21 Apr. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1964887/>.
Earth911. "How Patagonia Is Recycling Bottles Into Jackets." Earth911.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016. <http://earth911.com/business-policy/how-patagonia-is-recycling-bottles-into-jackets/>.
Nestle Waters. "What Are the Health Advantages of Drinking Bottled Water?" Http://www.nestle-watersna.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016. <http://www.nestle-watersna.com/en/about-nestle-waters/ask-nestle-waters-north-america/what-are-the-health-advantags-of-drinking-bottled-water>.
Sweeney, Glynis. "Fast Fashion Is the Second Dirtiest Industry in the World, Next to Big Oil." EcoWatch. N.p., 17 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2016. <http://ecowatch.com/2015/08/17/fast-fashion-second-dirtiest-industry/>.