The fashion world has a CO2 imprint of about 1 billion tonnes per year, more than all airlines and shipping companies put together.
It is also responsible for huge habitat destruction as we use vast volumes of pesticides and water to grow the materials to make clothes, for example the cotton industry uses 25% of the world’s pesticides and herbicides which have a significant effect on our environment.
On top of that it produces all kinds of by products and pollutants such as starch, dyes, paraffin and chemicals used to colour, fade and stonewash clothes, these pollute the air, waterways and workers lungs.
In more recent years we have also realised that synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon account for a huge part of plastic pollution in the world – when these materials are washed they shed hundreds of thousands of micro plastic fibres which can eventually find their way into our oceans. These are causing untold damage to our environment and us!!! Please avoid where you can.
Our clothes obsession is causing untold environmental damage and sorry to make it worse but our throw away culture is not helping.
In UK, we throw out £400,000 worth of clothes per day, that is around 7,000 garments every 10 minutes adding up to about 1 million tonnes of waste, much of this ends up in landfill and incinerators.
Surely it is time we did something about this crazy fashion industry
Many people go clothes shopping just to make them feel good and some will buy a garment on Friday, wear it Saturday and dump it on Sunday. This so called Fast fashion is a disaster. Designing and manufacturing clothes quickly and inexpensively to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price may be a successful business model for the likes of H&M, Zara, Peacocks, Primark, Xcel Brands, and Topshop, but takes no account of the damage it is causing. These brands need to take responsibility for their actions.
Fashion vloggers and bloggers have a huge effect on the buying habits of their millions of followers, some of them even encourage buy, buy buy. Surely this is not the way forward, they have a perfect platform to educate people to change their habits to buy more responsibly so I ask them to please use their power to help our world.
We need to be making and buying clothes that are both good for the environment but also made to last. Not just a buy, wear and discard philosophy.
So what can we all do to help curb textile waste and protect the environment
The simplest thing to do is just buy less. Just think how much simpler life would be with if you owned fewer clothes:
More disposable income.
Less time thinking about what to wear and more time living your life.
Less stress worrying about what everyone else thinks.
Smaller well organised wardrobe
Packing for trips / holidays would take less time.
Here are 9 simple steps to help you reduce what is in your wardrobe.
1. Admit that you own too much clothing.
2. Wear fewer colours. ( it also means less accessories such as shoes, belts, jewelry, handbags etc.)
3. Embrace the idea of one – e.g. one black dress, one black shirt, one swimsuit, one winter coat, one black belt is enough
4. Donate, sell, recycle, discard – start with the clothing you rarely wear
5. Impose an arbitrary moratorium on shopping – some of us shop as a habit, try and break the habit.
6. Set a monthly spending limit.
7. Purchase quality over quantity – it will last so much longer
8. Avoid the sale racks – we can be lured into buying things we do not need
9. Impress with your character, not your clothes.
Wow that should make life a little simpler, but what happens when you have worn something to death and need to buy a new garment. Here’s where you can put your green hat on.
As mentioned earlier cotton is very resource heavy and synthetic materials are an environmental nightmare so how about a few other materials to help your way to a more sustainable future.
Here are a few materials to think about –
OrganicCotton: not just sustainable and non-toxic but utilises a method of agriculture that’s good for the planet.”
However just check out if it is processed using conventional dyes, or treated with chemicals such as formaldehyde to keep it from wrinkling on its trip overseas, that material is still leaving a sizeable footprint on the earth.
Try buying organic cotton in the shades it’s naturally grown in: cream, pale green, and light brown. Also look for garments that are coloured using natural or vegetable-based dyes or bear credible labels (such as Eco-Cert) indicating the product is certified organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly.
Silk: Luxury and high fashion junkies rejoice; silk is inherently natural because it’s made by silk worms, not chemical-based synthetic processing. Also try looking for silk that’s been dyed naturally and made as close to home as possible. For all you vegans there are also new innovative ways to help prevent the death of all the silk worms during production.
Bamboo: Bamboo has become a serious player in fashion because it’s easy to grow without pesticides and grows very quickly. Another bonus – or so bamboo marketers insist – is that bamboo fabric is naturally antibacterial and repels odour. However, just watch out for the processing methods, some can be pretty toxic.
Lyocell: It’s made from wood pulp, so it’s both biodegradable and recyclable. Producing this fabric involves less emissions, energy, and water usage than other more conventional fabrics, and doesn’t require bleaching, either. Plus it’s naturally wrinkle-free, so you don’t need to waste time or energy on ironing! Just make sure the lyocell fabric you are buying is made from sustainable wood, and as usual, try to find a product that’s been dyed with a low-chemical or vegetable colourant.
Soy Fabrics: Soy fabric is made from the by-products of soy oil processing and is a good option for underwear and bras because its long fibres make it soft and silky. Just make sure your soy fabric is certified organic, sustainable, and eco-friendly.Also check that the so called “soy blend” does not include polyester and inorganic cotton in the mix.
Importantly, check on the source of the soy base product, it may come from an area where rainforest is being replaced by Soy farms, a real no no!
Hemp: Is this the ultimate eco-friendly fabric? It requires no chemicals to grow, it’s extremely versatile, and can be used to create strong, sturdy fabrics, soft delicate material, or even rope. On the down side hemp is not very well regulated, which means there’s little monitoring of the chemicals involved ingrowing or even where it is grown. We suggest you do plenty of background research on each garment.
Cashmere: As I am sure we all know this is luxurious and long lasting. The fibre comes from combing out the under-hairs of Kashmir goats, a breed native to the Himalayas but now raised worldwide. Just beware,cheap cashmere has become popular but to keep its price down it may have been treated with chemicals and dyed with carcinogenic dyes. It may also be blended with other fibres, such as polyester. A truly green cashmere piece will likely be an investment but you’ll also keep it for a lifetime – making it one of the most eco-friendly wardrobe items you own.
Linen: True linen is made from flax, a crop that requires very little pest-controlling chemicals.It’s also best when it’s a teeny bit wrinkly, so you can conserve energy by putting away the iron. Look for linen in natural shades, or dyed with natural dyes. Try to purchase linen that’s been made by an eco-certified clothing or fabric company. And, as usual, watch out for linen blends or cheap, chemically treated garments.
Alpaca: Alpaca sheep don’t require insecticides to be injected into their fleece, are fairly self-sufficient, don’t need to be treated with antibiotics, and don’t eat very much. It seems they’ve taken the idea of being eco-friendly upon themselves!Alpaca wool is also long lasting, which may help make up for the fact that the alpaca product you buy will likely be imported.
Ingeo: This is a new fabric made from fermented plant sugars, usually derived from corn. This is actually one of its pitfalls; since conventionally grown corn leaves a particularly large eco-unfriendly footprint via pesticides, water use, and land hogging. But making Ingeo requires almost half as much energy as it does to make cotton,even organic cotton, which gives it some advantages.
The bottom line when shopping for environmentally friendly clothing is to do your homework, or shop at a reputable eco-friendly material suppliers.« Recyclable, compostable, biodegradable plastics – what does it all mean? | How bad are beef and dairy products for our climate? »