Do fashion and climate change really belong to the same conversation?
Sadly, they definitely do.
How is fashion contributing to climate change?
There are many ways in which this industry and, especially, fast fashion is harming the environment, but the main problem with fashion and climate change involves carbon emissions.
High carbon emissions
While they happen at every stage of the supply chain, most carbon emissions are generated when manufacturing or sourcing materials.
- 70 million barrels of oils are used to make polyester fibres every year
- The carbon footprint of a polyester shirt is 5.5 kg, more than double that of cotton
Unfortunately, natural materials like cotton aren’t always a solution either.
Traditionally grown cotton, also extremely popular for clothes, has a direct impact on climate change by causing soil degradation (and that’s without looking at other environmental problems like pesticides and huge amounts of water): we need healthy soil to absorb CO2!
But the tie between fashion and climate change doesn’t end here.
As well as distribution and shipping, clothes release greenhouse gases when they’re disposed of, whether by being incinerated or slowly releasing methane when chucked in landfills.
A fast approach
In our opinion, the main problem with fashion and climate change is the unsustainable pace of the clothing industry.
Fast fashion produces garments without taking the environment into consideration and encourages consumers to see them as disposable, prompting them to buy new clothes every season to follow trends.
The result? 92 million tonnes of waste.
How YOU can reduce the impact of fashion on climate change
Luckily, there are also many brands working really hard to lower the CO2 emissions and environmental footprint of their clothing production.
For example, creating timeless designs rather than following trends, upcycling to reduce waste, or experimenting with lower-impact fibres involving fruit waste or biodegradable synthetic options.
Still, we know exactly how you feel: how can you make a difference when there are still so many huge companies that keep producing and marketing tons of clothes this way?
But you can.
That’s what our Noor tackled during a TED Talk:
So, now that you know that you can make a difference when it comes to fashion and climate change, here’s our advice:
- Start seeing clothes as durable rather than disposable
- Shift the focus from fast fashion being pleasurable to shopping responsibly, perhaps avoiding temptations (e.g. big shopping centres, influencers promoting hauls…)
- Switch to slow fashion: only buy what you actually need or can see yourself wearing for years
- Choose sustainable brands that are actively trying to minimise the impact of fashion on climate change and the environment
- Demand transparency: vote with your money, and boycott brands that aren’t doing their part
- Trade or swap clothes with friends, and consider buying second-hand, too
- Fix them if they’re damaged
- When buying several items online, try choosing them from the same store
- Don’t purchase different options just because you can return the rest! Free returns have a massive environmental cost
- Wash them less often to reduce the environmental impact of your laundry
We believe that fashion and climate change should be discussed together more often. Why don’t you start the conversation with your circle by sharing this article?
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