With the polished images and fashion shows that we associate with the fashion industry, it can be easy to forget that the materials in our clothes come from a much less glamorous place—the factory.
Let's start with seeing exactly where our clothes are produced. Considering that China and Turkey are the top two countries for manufacturing fashion, both are top heavy in contributing towards climate change.
HOW? On a global level, THE MAP encompasses the visualisation of the sheer size of this industry in their respective countries. Take Turkey for example, where in terms of population and geography, can supply large enough quantities of textiles to be ranked next door to the export capacities of China. NOTE: Turkey has a 76 million + strong population. Turkey is one of the leading textile processing countries worldwide. And this is why: Back in the 1990’s manufacturers in Turkey realised that the consumption of resources could be drastically reduced by using continuous finishing processes for woven fabrics.
Furthermore, Turkey’s manufacturers in production comply with internationally accepted ecological standards. The country’s laws ban the use of carcinogenic azo dyes in clothing and fabric manufacturing, unlike their far east Asia counterpart, who still uses these materials liberally. By doing so, fabric finishing chemicals in China can end up in waterways including bleaches, surfactants, solvents, acids, alkalis, dyes and inks, resins, salts, organic and inorganic stabilizers, softeners, and fluorocarbons used in stain- and water-resistant coatings. And it doesn't stop here. Textile manufacturing in China is responsible for more than 11% of wastewater (2.4 billion metric tonnes) discharged in the country, where half the world’s garments are made (54% to be exact).
Whilst Turkey relies on expensive gas and light oil (where CO2 emissions from natural gas are only around 50% of those produced when coal is used), China heavily relies on coal, the fossil fuel for its power supply. And our fashion factories are not any different. These factories, plugged into that coal supplied grid, are pumping out all that clothing that we end up wearing just four times.