Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


Fashion is one of the most environmentally harmful industries on the planet. From greenhouse gas emissions to toxic chemicals in water supplies, the price that the planet, and vulnerable populations, must pay in the production of the clothing we wear each day is not cheap. This paper discusses the role that the fashion industry plays in environmental degradation today, as well as strategies that can be employed within the industry to make it more sustainable. Chapter 1 provides an overview of and through quantitative data on why and how the manufacturing and sale of clothing is environmentally harmful. Chapter 2 delves into the history of the fashion industry, with emphasis on the last three centuries and how garment manufacturing has evolved to the current state it is in. Chapter 3 utilizes environmental economics to assess how the industry currently functions, why it is largely environmentally unsustainable, and what it will take change. Chapter 4 explores the various ethical issues associated with producing modern-day clothing, such as animal welfare, workers’ rights, and the implications of climate change in terms of environmental justice. Finally, Chapter 5 draws on the previously discussed subjects and discussions to provide recommendations for how to construct a more sustainable fashion industry that resists participating in the acceleration of climate change, environmental degradation, and overall unethical and unsustainable practices.