Biological diversity is being lost at a rate unprecedented last seen 65 million years ago when a mass extinction wiped out half of the planet’s plants and animals, including dinosaurs. Human wellbeing critically depends on the planet’s natural systems, but many of these essential systems are eroding. Today, up to a fifth of the world’s estimated total species, marine and terrestrial alike, are under threat of extinction.
The fashion industry’s impact
Apparel production has disruptive effects on natural ecosystems, transforming them in sometimes irreversible ways. The fashion industry impacts biodiversity all along the value chain; raw materials, fabric and yarn production, transportation and use. Cotton accounts for 2.4% of global cropland, but stands for 22.5% of all the insecticide use, and research continue to shed light on the harmful effects of microfibres on biodiversity, and potentially on human health as well.
What we need to do
Urgent efforts need to consider life below water and life on land, to halt and even reverse the loss of biodiversity. This can only be done by protecting nature and wildlife while also addressing drivers such as changing land and sea use, overexploitation, climate change and pollution.
Protecting and restoring the incredible intricate and sophisticated ecosystems of earth is crucial to maintain a healthy planet. There is an opportunity to change the future development trajectory from natural resource depletion and biodiversity degradation, to one where we protect and maintain the resilience of the world’s ecosystems. Altering the negative impact the fashion industry generates from raw material production, material preparation and processing, can give nature a chance to bounce back and restore.