The connection between your closet and Climate change is not that obvious at first glance. However, according to UNECE, about 8-10% of global carbon emissions are from Fashion Industry. In this article, we will go through the environmental impact of the Fashion industry and how we can reduce emissions with a few small steps.
What Makes Fast Fashion so BAD?
Side by side with the growing global population, the sensation of being on track with the most recent trends has never been higher. This demand has created opportunities for many industries, and one of the names on that list is the Fashion Industry.
With Fashion trends changing daily and newer trends showing up from every corner, this industry has shifted toward the Fast Fashion Business Model. Fast Fashion is used when fashion brands produce clothing that moves quickly from factories to consumers with cheap prices that justify the “falls apart after two wears.” statement.
With consumers buying more and more every day, this industry is responsible for emitting more than 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases every year. This makes fashion companies one of the largest emitters of GHG gases, and it doesn’t end here. From unsafe working conditions for garment workers to being one of the major contributors to ocean plastic pollution, the Fashion Industry is an intensive threat to the environment and public health.
Quality and Carbon Footprint
The cheap prices of Fast Fashion often come at the cost of supply chain shortcomings such as quality control and lower-grade material. Therefore, Fast Fashion garments have half the lifespan of slow Fashion or traditional clothing; this is precisely how Fast Fashion Brands increase their sales for more profit. Clothing production and transport are responsible for 40% of the Fashion Industry’s global greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, a shorter lifespan and more discarded clothes eventually lead to more textile waste. Last year in the United States alone, more than 17 million tons of textile waste were sent to landfills, and it will only increase if nothing changes.
What’s the Solution?
The most considerable portion of rising global temperatures falls on big corporations such as Shein, Zara and H&M. Although it seems complicated to do so, they can easily be persuaded to be more sustainable. At the end of the day, WE, the consumers, are the most valuable part of any brand, and any company would do everything they can to keep their clients happy and appreciate their loyalty.
Hence, the best approach is to ask and, if necessary, take action against companies that are not sustainable and drive them to more sustainable production.
Another solution is to create a closed-loop system for clothes. A closed loop system finishes exactly where the process started. It can be implemented in Fashion Industry as a recycling solution where manufactured clothes are transformed into material and used again to create the same thing they once were. We have seen similar systems in companies that recycle denim to make new clothes from used clothes.
Unfortunately, a commercially scalable sustainable fashion system such as this is yet to be developed, and until then, we have to reduce emissions of Fast Fashion with other methods.
Also, many companies have started to increase the lifespan of thrown-away clothes by repurposing them. For instance, Trans-Americas collects thrown-away clothes and starts a textile recycling process. In this process, usable garments will be collected to be used in second-hand or vintage markets. And items in worse conditions will be transformed into Fiber material for construction isolation or wiping products such as rags.
The work being done in Trans Americas is incredibly valuable by increasing the life span of clothes. However, according to Trans Americas, every year, the number of reusable clothes decreases, and more clothes are transformed into wiping rags that will eventually turn back into textile waste in a short time.
What Can You do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?
As for the consumer, the easiest thing to do is to avoid Fast Fashion brands as much as possible. Doing so, you might spend a bit more on slow fashion brands. In return, you will receive more durable clothing that will last much longer than fast fashion products. Furthermore, once Fast Fashion brands see that their business model is no longer appreciated nor welcomed by their old customers, we will have a far better chance of achieving a sustainable fashion industry.
Overall, you can make a big difference by reducing your shopping frequency, purchasing organically made clothing, and opting for second-hand products; we can reduce emissions.