Clothes, Choices and Better Air Quality
The cost of being cute is more than the price tag on the piece of clothing you eagerly want to have so badly. There’s also an air pollution price to pay.
In the USA alone, the number of garments purchased has tripled since the 1970s. Globally, more than 80 billion items of clothing are purchased each year. That’s a really big number, but the worst part of this is that the majority of which will be thrown in the trash. It means wasting money, time and resources globally besides destroying the planet more and more each year without thinking consequences carefully.
All that waste adds up: The World Resources Institute estimates that the so-called “fast fashion” industry annually releases about 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
But What is “Fast Fashion” Anyways?
The term “fast fashion” refers to an approach to clothing design, creation, and marketing that emphasizes getting the newest trends from catwalks to consumers as quickly – and cheaply – as possible.
In another meaning, “fast fashion” means primarily focusing mainly on making more and more money without thinking the effects on human lives and the planet by paying lots of marketing dollars to manipulate people’s perspective to pretend like doing good on the surface and hiding the reality.
But the environmental toll is high: Experts estimate that the fast fashion industry is responsible for nearly 10 percent of annual global emissions. It is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. And that’s to say nothing of the dyes and other chemicals used during the production of those clothes.
Fast Fashion’s Impact on Air Quality by the Numbers
People are keeping only the half of the fashion items that they purchased which leads to a massive creation of tons of waste, and on top of it the clothing production almost doubled in the last 20 years.
How much waste? A staggering 85 percent of textiles go to the dump each year. In fact, the equivalent of one garbage truck of clothing is burned or dumped in a landfill every second.
The projections by The Alliance for Sustainable Fashion shows that if the current trajectory continues, the industry’s share of annual carbon emissions will soar to 26 percent by 2050. That’s a big number to worry about.
You Can Make a Difference
The best way to combat fashion-related waste and pollution is to change your buying habits whether it’s online of offline. Sustainability first starts with YOU.
Here are six ways you can reduce the carbon footprint of your clothing:
- Unconsciously, don’t rush to toss your clothes out – if possible, mend or repair clothing instead of buying new.
- To ensure your clothing lasts longer, be sure to launder on lower temperatures and line dry when you can. Also, letting your clothes to dry naturally is better than using a dryer.
- If you must buy new clothing, select garments that are well-made such as cotton or wool and avoid synthetic materials like polyester, which releases nearly three times more carbon emissions than cotton.
- Check out local thrift, vintage, and consignment shops for new-to-you clothes.
- Use product search engines fashion such as Klicklook to find the right options and make the right choices for the clothes you’re looking for that helps you to shop sustainably. Cheap doesn’t mean high quality or high quality doesn’t mean expensive. Life can be overwhelming, but choosing the right item to contribute to the sustainability shouldn’t be so.
- Donate, donate, donate! There are a ton of places that accept gently used clothing. And if your clothes are beyond repair, don’t toss them out – even stained or ripped garments can be recycled. Known as textile recycling, these otherwise unwearable clothing items are collected and made into other products.
- Support companies that champion sustainability efforts. Before you make your next purchase, do some research: Does your favorite clothing company take sustainability seriously? If not, shop elsewhere.
Local Places to Donate, Shop
Whether you’re looking to buy something new to you, or donate something you can no longer use, there are many local resources. Here are a few to consider:
- Dress for Success Pittsburgh
- Red, White & Blue Thrift Store
- Salvation Army
- St. Vincent de Paul Society
To learn more about clothes recycling opportunities, check out these organizations and programs:
- Blue Jeans Turn Green Project
- The Bra Recyclers
- Council for Textile Recycling
- Secondary Materials for Recycled Textiles
- Zero Waste Box
YOU are the best way to combat fashion-related air pollution by changing your shopping habit and how & where you buy them from.