When considering the environmental impact of a sewing machine, it is unlikely that this common household appliance immediately conjures images of ecological threat. However, the sewing machine plays a leading role in the fashion industry, which, according to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is one of the largest sources of pollution in the world. The report suggests that the textile and fashion industries produce more pollution than aviation and international shipping combined.
Also, with the production of sewing machinery projected to exceed $7 billion this year in China alone, the distribution of those machines will have a massive impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The mass production and distribution of sewing machines, both industrial and domestic, also requires tons of packaging material which negatively impacts the environment. Lonely Whale and the Point Break Foundation estimate that by 2025 there will be one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish in the ocean. Even more alarming, the United Nations suggests that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish.
Modern domestic sewing machines are made from plastics and polymers, which increases affordability. It also increases the likelihood that consumers will replace rather than repair, especially in the case of handheld sewing machines, which are a growing novelty. With sewing machines constituting an increasing proportion of the millions of tons of household appliances which end up in landfills, this also poses a significant environmental concern.