The Effects of the Textile Industry on the Environment

Updated February 21, 2017

The environmental effects of the textile industry have increased in a negative way during the last decade with the introduction of "fast fashion," in which the media introduce new seasonal trends for each fashion season.


According to the Eco Asia environmental group, cotton crops account for 25 per cent of the world's pesticide use. Cotton crops also require a large amount of water to survive in hot conditions, causing adverse effects on the world's environment.

Fossil Fuels

The textile industry is dependent on the world's natural resources to provide power. From the use of agricultural machinery to harvest crops to the laundering process used to finish textiles, fossil fuels are burnt, producing harmful emissions.


The United Kingdom government states that the British textile industry produces 3.1 million tons of CO2 gases, 2 million tons of waste and 70 million tons of waste water.


As "fast fashion" demand increases, crops produced in countries such as the U.S. are increasingly exported to countries with cheap labour for manufacture. The U.S. National Labor Committee reports Chinese workers in textile factories can make just 12 to 18 cents a day.


The recycling of textiles is an important way to reduce the environmental impact of the industry. The TransAmerica organisation recycles 12 million pounds of textiles every year for use as industrial rags and upholstery stuffing.

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About the Author

Paul Cartmell began his career as a writer for documentaries and fictional films in the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s. Working in documentary journalism, Cartmell wrote about a wide variety of subjects including racism in professional sports. Cartmell attended the University of Lincoln and London Metropolitan University, gaining degrees in journalism and film studies.