Environmental Degradation: Causes and What is Being Done to Improve it

I have done research on sustainability, related and unrelated to the apparel industry, since I was a freshman in high school. However, I never considered the role that poverty could play in sustainability. I know poverty is incredibly common in developing countries, and I am aware that even in Stillwater, Oklahoma, two-thirds of the population either suffers from poverty or resides on the poverty line. Furthermore, I had not made the connection that because those suffering from poverty in developing countries relied so much on agricultural practices, they overconsumed natural resources, in turn depleting the environment. The environment’s poor state also comes from the manufacturing and power plants other countries place in the developing countries due to the lower costs. I knew this caused air pollution, but I neglected to consider the other effects such as acid rain and soil erosion. Finally, the reading made me realize the correlation between the people’s focus on personal wellbeing and their lack of focus on the wellbeing of the environment. The first takeaway that I got from Leyla’s TED Talk was the true definition of biodegradability and that it does not define environmental benefits. I also learned that about half of the produced food in the world ends up being wasted, and that companies also need to consider how consumers use their products when trying to make the product more sustainable. What surprised me the most in this talk was that e-waste has about 50 million tons trafficked. When it comes to ensuring or creating a post-disposable future, I believe we as individuals have the responsibility to recycle. Whether it is simply putting an old piece of paper into the recycle bin or turning a used food can into a flowerpot, a post-disposable future requires increased recycling. If each individual recycled, not only would the environment be healthier, a post-disposable future can be achieved. In addition, to eliminate waste, companies can begin to design their products to be reusable, and apparel manufacturers and retailers can make the switch to using fabric scraps, etc. The RILA is the Retail Industry Leaders Association which is a trade organization for retailers in the United States in which retailers are able overcome economic challenges while also work towards sustainability and growth. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has created a sustainability-focused program, named SmartWay, in order to increase sustainable practices and methods in the supply chain. This includes finding sustainable solutions towards increasing freight emissions. In order to improve freight emissions, SmartWay tracks freight emissions and the use of fuels and shares this information to multiple parts of the supply chain, provides more sustainable modes of transportation etc. with different companies, and promotes the use of technology that saves and preserves fuel.

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