What actions have you taken to reduce your carbon footprint? Perhaps you skipped an international flight, forgone a purchase that would be shipped from overseas or done your best to offset a journey. While all of these help us stop climate change, have you considered the industry that produces more emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined – the fashion industry?
If you hope to decrease your carbon footprint, one of the best places to start is your closet.
Where are the emissions coming from?
You must be wondering how come fashion alone is responsible for so much climate damage? Well, there are many different contributing factors throughout the entire production process and supply chain, making it so.
Firstly, synthetic fabrics, which are the basic building blocks of our garments, have a significantly larger footprint than natural fibres (for example, polyester produces two to three times more emissions than cotton) – and today’s fashion industry relies largely on these synthetics. However, the farming of cotton and other crops isn’t without fault – the use of fertiliser in the production of these materials emits nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with 300 times more warming power than CO2.
In recent years, much of the world’s fashion production has been outsourced to developing countries. However, this doesn’t just affect emissions from shipment – developing countries also rely on fossil fuels to power the factories where garments are made, producing even more emissions.
The role of fast fashion
The fashion industry as a whole is responsible for these large amounts of carbon emissions – but fast fashion, in particular, plays a significant role in these emissions.
Firstly, fast fashion outsources its production to developing countries, which leads to issues with shipment emissions and reliance on fossil fuels for energy production. Secondly, fast fashion has taught us to buy much more clothing than we used to – and with each garment we buy, we increase our contribution to climate change.
How to decrease the carbon footprint of your closet
If you’re looking to live a low-carbon lifestyle, shifting your view of clothing and fashion consumption habits is one of the first and foremost things you should be focusing on. Here are some of the easy to adopt ways to reduce your contribution to climate change:
- Support brands who are transparent about their origin, particularly the manufacturers. Look for those who use renewable energy and fair labour.
- Buy second-hand clothing or those from recycled materials– that way, you’re not adding any new greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere (except those emitted in any shipping involved).