Every one of us currently lives in a world where the fashion industry is the source of approximately 8% of global climate pollution. To put that small number into it’s larger perspective, if it were a nation, it would be the fourth largest climate polluter on Earth.
According to the 2018 State of Reuse Report, most people do not understand the environmental consequences of sending our clothing to landfills (which can take over 40 years to break down). Where, in the process of breaking down, they release methane gas – a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2 – and toxic leachate.
Even during the production process, clothes have a significant impact on the environment. One cotton t-shirt requires 700 gallons of water to make and a pair of jeans requires 1,800 gallons. The fabric industry uses one-third of the world’s freshest water resources to produce new garments.
Finding ways to take advantage of the clothes left hanging in all of our bulging wardrobes, or the abundance of used clothing at thrift stores is the first step to staying consciously aware to change our actions – no matter how small or simple they may seem to us.
Millions of North Americans treat their overcrowded closets like storage, with garments remaining unworn and with tags on. In this article, you will find five things that you can do – that don’t take much more than a conscious thought – to help make your carbon footprint that much smaller.
Demand better, not more
Take a look at your favorite brands and see how their clothing is made and what they are doing to become more sustainable. Even call or tweet them on how they can improve in their environmental impact. Without pressure to be better from their consumers, there will be no change.
Also, before you leap into the next trend in fashion, take a look at what you already own. Instead of buying that cotton jacket that will last a few months before never to be seen again, buy something more versatile that you can wear every other day, in a variety of different ways.
Repair, not replace
Instead of throwing that shirt that has a tiny rip you got while stretching, maybe just take a moment to pick up a needle and thread and sew it back together. Companies applaud the next haul – they encourage and spread the message that it’s a positive thing to spend mindlessly – but you can consciously combat this by being aware when you’re buying something. Check to see if you’re buying it for reasonable reasons, or because the idea of owning something new is more exciting than actually owning it.
Fight Fast Fashion
Instead of jumping on getting the next new thing that gives you confidence or 15 minutes, perhaps think of the impact that goes behind it. The more disposable and quickly trends come and go, the more abuse will come to the workers behind the clothing as well as our planet receive. By choosing quality over quantity, you support the right for well-treated workers and the level of thought that goes into what companies make.
Borrow, Swap, or Buy Secondhand
While we all have clothes that are loved dearly, there comes a point that shifts our opinion of those garments and boredom of the repetition sets in.
Instead, why not swap with your bestie so your ex-favorite outfit can live a new life, or sell/buy secondhand. An estimated $28.5 billion worth of second-hand items found a new home in 2017, and 85 percent of Canadians are becoming apart of the action in one form or another.
Just like H&M’s new sustainable line being released on April 11th, the idea that these huge companies are finally jumping on the eco-friendly train leads the way for all fashion to follow – in large and small-scale stores. It’s important to support these kinds of advancements in order to encourage future and better advancements to come.
There are also a vast amount of clothing rental services that make it easy to save money while looking like you spend it. Websites like Rent The Runway are making it extremely easy to wear high fashion without paying the price of it. By paying for a set plan, you get clothes shipped to your door that you can try and have for an extended amount of time – then returning it for someone else to try.
Other companies like The Mr. And Ms. Collection have a variety of plans offered that suit specific needs without a huge cost. The Chic Marie plans offer a bit more high fashion while still offering an affordable price without having to commit to wearing it for the next few years.
While the future of sustainable fashion goes beyond what’s listed here, it’s incredibly important that everyone is consciously aware of how even the simplest change in responsibility – like knowing where our t-sifts come from – is a step forward in becoming better. Will you be a part of the change?