What are three negative effects a sewing machine has on the environment?

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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.

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The sewing machine uses electricity. Since electricity can be taken from coal-powered power plants, the use of the sewing machine can indirectly increase greenhouse gases. Sewing machines also allow people to produce more clothes. As clothes wear out, people can throw them away, thus leading to filling landfills. The sewing machine makes clothes easier to obtain and people will think less of patching clothing if they realize that they can have an entirely new garment sewn. An increased demand for inexpensive clothing also leads to an increased demand for fabrics. Mass-produced cotton requires fossil fuels for farm machinery and the chemicals used for cotton can lead to groundwater and soil contamination. There is also the question of an increased number of potentially harmful dyes used in clothing manufacturing. As more clothes are produced, more dyes can potentially seep into the water supply. While the sewing machine might not be the only cause of this, the device does lead to an increase in consumerism and all consumerism ultimately leads to pollution and a strain on Earth's resources.

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