According to a UN report issued earlier this year, human driven climate change is already causing widespread devastation. The world has a “brief and rapidly closing window to secure a livable future.”
Among the startling facts, the report stated that some 3.3 billion people (about half the global population) live in areas classified as “highly vulnerable” to climate change, with millions facing food and water shortages due to climate change.
Surely something as seemingly benign as the clothes in your closet can’t contribute to climate change?
In fact, clothing manufacturing plays a significant role in global climate change:
– Making clothes is a resource intensive production process. It can take more than 2,700 liters of water to produce just one cotton T-shirt.
– The land used for cultivating fibers (like cotton, flax for linen) can lead to deforestation and habitat destruction.
– Chemical pollution is also a biproduct as large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers are used in conventional cotton farming.
– Harmful chemicals are often used in dyeing, finishing, used and treating fabrics leading to water pollution.
– The energy used in factories for spinning, weaving, dyeing, and finishing textiles comes mostly from fossil fuels, leading to GHG emissions.
The Impact of Fast Fashion
Fast fashion has led to increased production of clothing items that are not sold and end up as waste. ‘Throwaway’ culture encourages people to buy more clothes and dispose of them more quickly, leading to more waste in landfills.
The cultural shift towards viewing clothing as disposable makes the problem worse. Increased demand means more production, more resourced used, and more waste.
Synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon and acrylic are essentially plastics derived from petroleum. They take hundreds of years to degrade and release harmful micro-plastics into the environment.
Acting Your Way into Right Thinking
To combat these issues, there is a growing movement towards sustainable fashion. This includes practices such as using organic materials, reducing waste through circular fashion models, implementing water-saving technologies, and shifting consumer behavior towards valuing quality and longevity over quantity.
It can come down to changing one’s view of fashion and style. As Coco Chanel once remarked “Fashion changes, but style endures.”
Always Be Content looked at fashion and style in their new book on slow fashion called “Dare to Care – What you Wear.” Here we provide some fun examples of how to find mindful style than can look cool and tackle global warming too.
The solutions range from finding amazing affordable clothes in used clothing thrift / charity shops to embracing hand-me-down garments. Often what is old is new (and quite fashionable) – you just need to be smart in seeking it out.
Take a look at our book “Dare to Care What You Wear” here.