Fashion, like any consumer product, has an environmental cost, and some of it, the so-called “fast fashion,” comes at a higher cost to us in the long term.
Take the manufacture of fabric, for example. According to the World Wildlife Fund, cotton growing and manufacturing comes with some serious environmental damage. The production of a single cotton t-shirt or pair of jeans requires 20,000 litres of water. Fertilizers and pesticides are also used in cotton farming, which lead to pollution and water contamination.
Ottawa, 31 May 2016
In her 2016 Spring Reports tabled today in Parliament, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Julie Gelfand, presents the results of three audits completed since last winter. The Commissioner’s Perspective is also included in the 2016 Spring Reports.
These reports focused on federal programs that are intended to support the sustainability of Canadian communities, on what the federal government is doing to support long-term efforts to mitigate the effects of severe weather, and on how Health Canada manages risks to human health and safety posed by chemical substances used in cosmetics and household consumer products.
More than half the planet's people now live in urban areas. The need to supply food, shelter, fresh water and energy to billions of urban residents is resulting in loss of farmland, forests, wetlands and other ecosystems, as well as the critical ecological services they support, like providing food, clean air and drinking water.
Almost half of Canada's urban base is on land that only a few generations ago was being farmed. According to Statistics Canada, nearly four million hectares of farmland — an area larger than Vancouver Island — were lost from 1971 to 2011, mostly due to urbanization.
Many environmental campaigns over the past 50 years have aimed at getting people to care for imperilled species in wild, far-off places. The focus in Canada has often been on large, photogenic, culturally important animals, with bonus points for campaigns that include alliteration, bumper sticker-friendly slogans and plush toys. This has been a sensible and often successful strategy.
Over the past few years smaller, charismatic critters closer to home have buzzed into the spotlight: bees. About a decade ago, beekeepers in Europe and North America started noticing serious declines in honeybee populations. Bees have lost much of their natural habitat to urbanization and industrial agriculture and face increased stress from climate change-related drought and severe winters.
If a home is not cleaned and cared for, it will become rundown and less habitable or even unliveable. It's no different with our broader surroundings, from the immediate environment to the entire planet.