Nichole Golden Dr. Kim Reimann POLS 2401 June 1, 2020 Writing Assignment: Riverblue The process of making textiles in areas like China, India, and Indonesia produces a massive amount of chemical waste, which is then dumped into the rivers. Furthermore, these places often do not recycle the water they are using, wasting millions of gallons of fresh water with chemical contamination. To put in perspective, when learning about Xintang, the blue jean capital of the world, it was revealed that a single pair of Levi jeans uses 920 gallons of water. This output of waste dumped into the rivers has affected the local communities that live near the river and in some cases, such as the Buriganga River, wiped out all life living in those rivers. One example of how detrimental textile pollution can be to the people who live nearby is Dhaka, India. Two-thirds of all pollution there is caused by the tanneries. Most of the workers in these factories are underage, male and female, and, according to Pinaki Roy, a Daily Star Reporter covering tannery issues, he believes the reason many of these workers are young is that dealing with these harsh chemicals and work conditions every single day shortens their life spans. The fashion industry is connected to these textile and tannery industries because many big-name brands buy from these unethical factories because of the low cost with high output. This very aspect however is what contributes to the suffering of the people in these areas. Thankfully, there are many who work together to speak out and spread awareness for these happenings. Namely, Mark Angelo, a celebrated river conservationist who has traveled the world to spread awareness of river pollution and has even worked with the UN and created events like World Rivers Day which encourages the cleaning of rivers in over 60 countries. Others such as Ma Jun and Tianjie Ma in China or Syeda Rizawa Hasan, an environmental lawyer in India, work to spread awareness and research further into the issue to combat against textile industrial pollution. IGO’s such as Greenpeace and the UN engage with both individuals and corporations in hopes to create effective efforts against textile waste. Greenpeace has staged worldwide protests, released reports of pollution, and largely advertised a push for a “detox” in large name fashion brands. Some of these brands being Adidas, Puma, H&M who have bought cheap labor textiles from China, and the many brands purchasing from PT Gistex, an Indonesian textile company known to have dumped tons of chemicals into the rivers of Bandung. Brands recorded to have been purchasing from PT Gistex are the Adidas Group, Brook Brothers, Gap Inc., H&M, and Marubeni. This film also opened my eyes to the environmental deprivation caused by blue jeans. The chemicals in the dyes can contain heavy metals which can travel through the entire world water system. Along the way these toxic materials are ingested by animals and travel into nearby agriculture, which is ultimately then consumed by humans causing various health problems. Many of the dyes in these textiles are often correlated to cancer, such as azodyes. Learning this has made me aware of the health damage caused to locals, as well as the fact that we are wearing harsh chemicals on our bodies. When learning about how harmful and damaging these cheap textiles can be it reminded me of the cheap Chinese fashion websites spread across the internet and even made me think hard about the growing popularity of apps like Wish, infamous for its ridiculously cheap products. It’s actually become a trend on Youtube where many prominent personalities have made it a challenge to see how well the products they receive are, and more often than not they are mediocre at best. However, while involuntary, this trend has definitely sparked a use of the app and increased the common consumer’s purchase of these shabby textiles and items. As said in the video, the best way to decrease this fashion created industrial pollution starts with the consumer and our responsibility to choose to purchase ethical fashion. Many fashion and textile creators are making break throughs right now on how to resolve this issue such as Orsola De Castro, a leader in sustainable fashion who makes her clothes completely from recycled materials, combatting fast fashion. Because of denim playing such a large part in this problem some brilliant minds such as Italdenim and Jeanologia have invented ways to cut chemicals used in the process of dying and distressing jeans, and with no extra cost. Such inventions are Jeanologia’s discovery of using air and light to distress jeans without sanding and Italdenim’s investment in recycling equipment and discovering how to use “chitosan” to reduce dye usage. The main challenge that arises is in brands and consumers taking responsibility and accepting the fact that the current way of processing textiles is severely damaging our rivers and freshwater, which makes up a mere 1% of all water on earth, and with textile industries using up 3.2% of that available water. My idea for a solution is that we need to spread awareness. I did not know half the stuff I learned today from this video, and while organizations like Greenpeace are doing their best, we as individuals need to educate and tell others about this issue. Show them. Show them pictures of Buriganga, and the Ganges, the dyes being poured into the water and inform our peers. Furthermore, we need to promote and spread more awareness for companies like Italdenim and Jeanology, which I did not know existed till previously. Let the consumers know there are ethical companies with cost-effective products that they can direct their consumption to. Personally, I was having a conversation with a fellow classmate and we were discussing why this issue was more prevalent in areas of Asia more so than Europe and America. I remembered from the video that the people in these areas were less likely to speak out about environmental issues to their government and industries. During Pinaki Roy’s report about the children workers in Dhaka, India, he stated that “they complain but they feel like this is their fate”. I feel that as the younger generation grows and globalization further brings together our large world, they can see more of what rivers could be, like the rich and diverse Zambezi river in Zimbabwe. I think this globalization needs to go both ways in where we here need to be exposed more to the harmful culture of textile pollution, but also if we can show the people over there the beauty of what their rivers could be, they will know something better is possible and gain the motivation to fight for it.