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The Aral Sea, Drained for Cotton

As told from our previous posts, the fast fashion industry does a number on our planet’s ecosystem. The BBC recently labeled the fashion industry one of the top 5 most polluting industries. This puts its effect on the environment up there with the major oil and coal industries. And just like the devastation that comes from an oil spill or coal mining in general, fashion comes at a high cost for the people and living things that depend on the water it consumes.

The polluting effects of the fashion industry rank up there with oil and coal.

It is hard to comprehend a hole in the ozone without actually being able to see it for ourselves. Seeing the impact fast fashion has had is not so difficult. The Aral Sea is an inland body of water between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It was the fourth-largest freshwater lake in the world. It covered an area of some 26,300 square miles, was 270 miles long and 180 miles wide, and was 226 feet at its deepest point. Unfortunately, its size has been reduced by 9-tenths and portions have dried up completely.

According to the BBC’s documentary on the Aral Sea, the once enormous body of water has now been reduced to almost nothing. “By 1990, the Aral Sea had dried up to less than half its original size, and today barely exists” the BBC reports. The reason for this extreme change is due to a lack of foresight, greed, and over usage of water. Two major rivers that fed into the Aral sea, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, were used to water cotton fields in the area. This cotton was then sold off to make clothes for the fashion industry. Cotton production requires a lot of water. It has been approximated that it takes about 4,000 gallons of water to grow, process, and produce the amount of cotton used to make a pair of jeans. And if you're not familiar with Stacey Dooley here's a great social experiment she did that you simply MUST SEE.

According to Britannica, "The health costs to people living in the area began to emerge soon after water levels had dropped enough to uncover portions of the seabed. The hardest hit were the Karakalpaks, who live in the southern portion of the region. Winds blowing across the exposed seabed produced dust storms that buffeted the region with toxic dust contaminated with salt, fertilizer, and pesticides. As a result, the areas’ inhabitants have suffered health problems at unusually high rates—from throat cancers to anemia and kidney diseases—and infant mortality in the region has been among the highest in the world."

It becomes easier to quantify the horrifying effects that the fashion industry has on the environment through examples like the Aral Sea crisis. Now more than ever, action must be taken to eliminate the harm that fast fashion imposes on the planet. #Sustainablefashion practices are more important than ever if we wish to reverse these devastating effects.

Thread Local 360's mission is:

To elevate the secondhand shopping experience in order to drive the cultural shift toward fashion circularity while increasing awareness about the waste and pollution caused by the fashion industry.

It's a mouthful but, damn, it's a good bite. By joining Thread Local 360 you are joining a local tribe of fashion-savvy people who put people and planet over profit. Locals fierce enough to say "ENOUGH" to fast-fashion and hello to looking good without the high cost—all definitions implied. Get #intheloop now and become part of the #InnerCircle, which consists of the first 500 people to join our mailing list. You will always be recognized and rewarded for being our first supporters.


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