Case study on the global environmental impact of the production of our clothing
In October 2021, the German Federal Environment Agency (FEA), a member of the Textiles Partnership, published the study "CLOTHES with HOOKS". In it, the UBA examines the global environmental impact of our consumption of clothing. On 42 pages, the study shows the emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants that result from the production of our clothing.
One focus is on water consumption in arid regions for raw materials and the production of textiles. In addition, the use of chemicals in processing is illustrated, as is the life cycle of textiles after use.
The analysis is based on statistical data on global trade flows, resource consumption and emissions. On this basis, the average risk of violations of social standards in the production of our clothing was also determined. The study presents correlations and shows possible courses of action for more sustainable clothing consumption.
The study determined, among other things, that the apparel sector:
causes more than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions (excluding footwear and home textiles)
5% of chemicals produced worldwide consumed
represents 4 % of the total amount of fertilizer applied annually
is responsible for 1.1% of global water withdrawals from water bodies and groundwater (dyeing and cotton cultivation)
Opportunities to improve the environmental performance of textile products, according to the study, include fiber selection, sustainable cultivation practices for natural fibers, deeper tracking in the supply chain to control chemical and water use, and more sustainable consumer behavior.
The study can be found on the homepage of the Federal Environment Agency: Clothes with Hooks