This Season’s Best Look is Caring For The Planet
By EssentialsMAG environment contributor Rob Renouf
Clothing may not seem like the most obvious contributor to the climate crisis, but the fashion industry accounts for around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Fashion doesn’t sit comfortably with sustainability, as it revolves around constantly convincing us that we need to buy something new. The infamous £1 bikini symbolised how disposable clothing has become in the era of ‘fast fashion’, with over half of clothes being thrown away within a year. Every week 11 million items of clothing are sent to landfill in the UK alone.
The environmental impact of clothing isn’t limited to the amount being thrown away.
Washing synthetic clothing releases thousands of tiny plastic microfibres, which pollute rivers and oceans and can enter the food chain.
Making one pair of jeans requires 10,000 litres of water – roughly the amount that a person drinks in ten years.
Globally, cotton farming accounts for 6% of all pesticide use and 16% of insecticide use, harming both the environment and workers - pesticide poisoning kills around 200,000 people every year in developing countries.
So, given that most of us are not going to stop wearing clothes anytime soon, what can we do?
Reduce the amount of clothing we buy. Oxfam are asking people not to buy new clothing during September and Extinction Rebellion are urging us to pledge not to buy clothing for an entire year. If we do need to buy new clothing, we should ideally buy quality items that will last and can be repaired.
Reuse clothing by buying second hand and donating unwanted items to charity. October sees the launch of the Wrexham Clothing Exchange – essentially a swap shop for clothes (details on their Facebook page). Reuse is particularly important with children’s clothes, as they grow out of them so quickly.
Recycle clothing where reuse is not possible. However, at present only 1% of clothing is actually recycled into new clothes.
Save water, energy (and money) by only washing our clothes when they need it and at lower temperatures. Tumble dryers use lots of energy, so line drying is preferable whenever possible. Only ironing clothes when absolutely necessary will also save energy.
Choose natural fibres such as organic cotton rather than synthetics.
Fast fashion definitely isn’t a good look, as unfortunately it’s very likely that the real cost is being paid by someone else and the environment.
EssentialsMAG environment contributor is Rob Renouf, firstname.lastname@example.org