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Fashion Pollutes Heavily

Accounts for 15 per cent of industrial water pollution

The industry uses the equivalent of 12, 402 Olympic swimming pools of oil each year, said Zuzana Gombosova, a material researcher

HYDERABAD, Jan 08 (The CONNECT) – The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of all water pollution worldwide while 15% of the total fabric used by the fashion industry is wasted, Zuzana Gombosova, Cofounder of Slovakia-based Malai Biomaterials said.

The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions as kit generates a lot of greenhouse gases due to the energy used during its production, manufacturing, and transportation of the millions of garments purchased each year, Zuzana Gombosova, a material researcher from Slovakia, said addressing Knowledge Lab hosted by FICCI Ladies Organisation Incubation, i-TIC Foundation the Technology Business Incubator (TBI) at IIT Hyderabad and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Hyderabad) yesterday.

She said 60-80% of the product impact on sustainability lies in the choices made at the design and development stage. The fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of water in the world. The industry uses the equivalent of 12, 402 Olympic swimming pools of oil each year, she pointed out.

Washing clothes, meanwhile, releases 500,000 tons of micro-fibres into the ocean each year---the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. According to her, an estimated 92 million tons of waste is created annually from fashion. 

Speaking on Sustainability and Design, Gombosova, who shot into limelight by winning the second edition of Circular Design Challenge (CDC) at Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) last year said: "everyone is talking about sustainability, but sometimes that's all they are doing".

Malai Biomaterials manufactures a water-resistant bio-composite material that looks like leather, using raw materials such as coconut water and banana fiber.

Zuzana along with her cofounder C S Susmith supplies its vegan leather called ‘Malai’ (which is named after the coconut flesh) to a few international labels. 

Zuzana said plastics are found in an estimated 60% of garments, she said. Cotton is considered the world's dirtiest crop because it uses 16% of the world's pesticides.

Overproduction, ineffective recycling systems, ineffective use of resources, use of toxic compounds are some of the main issues confronting fashion industry, Zuzana shared. Linear Economy, Recycling Economy are things of past. 

Circular Fashion is the new buzz word. Its goal is to ensure that clothes are made from safe and renewable materials, new business models increase their use, and old clothes are turned into new. In this concept the production of an item and the end of its life are equally as important, she said and cited examples of few brands such as Refash. The brand uses waste and leftover material from industries, to create their limited edition pieces. She spoke about Stella McCartney, a British fashion designer known primarily for her fur-free and leather-free apparel.

Dr. Mudrika Khandelwal, Associate Professor of IIT Hyderabad referred to innovation possibilities for sustainable living and said “when you select material wisely you may get the same or even better results.” “So make choices of materials which have less impact on the environment, she said.

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