We are currently in a climate emergency. It is our duty to try to undo the unimaginable damage we have brought upon this beautiful planet. There are many ways that we can help. Yes, I’m aware that real change needs to come from higher up, but I think we can all pull together to make the change we want to see.
One of those ways is to shop sustainably. The fashion industry is a huge drain on the climate, it’s the cause for at least 5% of all manmade greenhouse gases and that number is only growing. 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide comes from the fashion industry alone. We have created synthetic fabrics like polyester which is made from plastic. This doesn’t biodegrade as fast as it really needs to. These garments, or at least these fibres, will be around for an incredibly long time; and what do we do? Create more! This needs to change. In 2014 46.1 million tonnes of polyester was produced. Let that sink in a little. 46.1 million tonnes. This produced 655 million tonnes of CO2 that was released into the air. But don’t go thinking that it’s only polyester that is creating such horrific damage to the environment; oh no, cotton is pretty bad too. Yes, cotton is a natural fibre, but it needs fertiliser, and the fertiliser used releases Nitrous Oxide into the air. Nitrous Oxide is a greenhouse gas that has 300 times more warming power than CO2 does.
There are definitely way more items of clothing in existence than there needs to be and we just keep piling more and more on top. We should all be recycling our clothing really. Charity shops, thrift stores, eBay, Depop, and other ways to buy secondhand clothing are brilliant. If we all keep sharing and recycling our garments we can make a real change, for the Earth. Learning to sew is something everyone should be doing. This means learning how to adjust clothing that no longer fits, or even repairing items. Doing this can dramatically reduce your fashion consumption because instead of going out and buying a new top, just fix the one you already have a home. Learning to sew also gives you the ability to alter clothing to fit your personal style. That means removing and adding detail, lengthening or shortening, embellishing, tailoring, and even completely changing the garment. This skill opens up a huge door for you. I understand that people have busy lives, and I totally accept that. I say that if you CAN make the change, why wouldn’t you?
Fast fashion has a huge impact on the planet. It’s not good for the environment but it’s also not always great for the people that work for these brands. We’ve all heard of sweatshops, right? They’re not good places. Sweatshops are usually in poorer parts of the world, not any specific country. People that own these businesses prey on the poor who are desperate and they exploit them. I personally cannot consciously contribute to these actions. Workers in sweatshops are paid the very bare minimum, in horrible conditions. Children are often used too. The effect fast fashion has on the environment is monumental. The energy used to create, transport, and package these clothes makes its impact.
Only 20% of all garments are recycled, with less than 1% actually being made into new items of clothing. What happens to the rest? Oh, they just end up in landfill or they get incinerated which, yep you guessed it, causes damage to the environment. Like I said earlier on, if a piece of clothing has polyester in it, it’s basically made of plastic.
We can do our part by reducing the amount of new clothing we buy, also do our research into the brand we are buying from. Next time you buy a new top, or some Primark jeans, think about the poor person who was worked tirelessly for little to no money. I’m not saying to only buy secondhand, but why wouldn’t you? You can get pretty much whatever you’d like secondhand and it’s cheaper, so you’re saving some money too. It’s a win-win. So please consider not buying from fast fashion brands. We’ve got twelve years to save our home, this is a serious issue. We need to show those major polluters that we are serious, and by doing that is making changes.