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The Clothing & Textile Industry

The Problem

The Link

Clothing and shelter are basic human needs, but many people do not have adequate access to clothing or shelter.

At the same time, the global clothing and textile industry is a multitrillion dollar industry. And each year, countless numbers of individuals suffer and die for the production of clothing, accessories, and other textiles. Modern slavery—forced labor—is a problem across multiple continents.

Children, animals, women, and migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in the industry. Migrant workers are at risk for labor rights violations including wage theft.

The clothing and textile industry exploits children at every stage of production, including picking cotton and other fibers, spinning yarn, sewing, and tanning leather.

Leather, wool, fur, and other industries that use animals for their skin, fur, and feathers contribute to significant physical and mental suffering among animals and workers. Within these industries, animals are deprived of normal lives, and they endure tremendous cruelty.

Disease Risk

Those who work in or live near facilities that produce clothing and textiles such as leather suffer disproportionately from environmental health hazards, including certain forms of cancer.

Children are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals, which can cause symptoms and diseases that range from skin changes to multi-organ failure.

The use of animals in clothing and textile production fuels the risk for infectious diseases that are passed from animals to humans.

The Climate Crisis and Environmental Injustice

The apparel industry is responsible for approximately 10% of global carbon emissions. It drives water scarcity and pollutes rivers and streams. Around 85% of all textiles thrown away in the US are either dumped into landfills or burned, which harms people and animals who live in nearby communities.

Corporations that use animals for leather production fuel greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity and pollution, solid waste production, and indiscriminate land use. The global leather industry is a major driver of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, which is one of the primary drivers of the climate crisis.

People living in economically impoverished areas worldwide experience these consequences most acutely.

We can implement programs and policies that value social and environmental justice above corporate profits.

Toward Effective & Compassionate Solutions

Education, Advocacy, and Policy Change

We envision the world’s human population clothed from sustainable, plant-derived fibers and sheltered through ecologically regenerative means, supported by governments that implement programs and policies that reward ethical ingenuity.

As part of our commitment to coalition building, we partner with organizations like Impact Fashion, a leading organization in sustainable, cruelty-free fashion. These partnerships highlight and promote a positive, solutions-oriented approach to the many ethical challenges—ranging from child labor and modern slavery to animal suffering—in the clothing industry.

We work with other organizations, leaders, and activists to advance public policy that would end certain forms of child and animal exploitation such as international trafficking. Specifically, we advocate for US ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which would dramatically curb child trafficking including child labor. The US is the only member state of the United Nations that has not yet ratified the Convention. Additionally, we advocate for public policy that would prevent animal trafficking for clothing and textile production.

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