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The fashion sector has a large carbon footprint. There are a few ways you can help reduce that footprint but let it be known that SYSTEMIC CHANGE IS REQUIRED, END OF STORY. Simultaneously, there are actions we can do to make our choices and our closets more environmentally friendly.
What is a carbon footprint you may ask? According to Britannica a carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with all the activities of a person or other entity, in this case that entity is the fashion world. It is important to note that the individual is not to shoulder the blame for an industry problem that will need legislative change to be made, that is to say we, the individuals can not make changes ourselves to help reduce the carbon footprint. Our daily decisions can help reduce our carbon footprint on a micro level and influence people in positions of power on a macro level to change their ways. This is especially evident when we witness both individuals taking collective action and individual movements striving to transform the larger system. How can you start reducing your closet's carbon footprint you may ask? Let's take a look at some steps everyone can take.
Certain fabrics are known to be better for the environment than others. As a result, pay attention to the garment label the next time you go shopping. Organic materials should be preferred over conventional ones. Take cotton for example, despite the fact that cotton is a plant-based fiber, it is an extremely carbon-intensive crop that necessitates the use of a lot of pesticides and fertilizers. Instead reach for something like certified organic cotton in both your new and second hand fashion choices.
Most individuals aren't aware of it, yet they are probably washing their clothes more frequently than they really need to. Many fashion experts have stated that limiting chemicals in detergents and heat exposure would help your clothes last longer, so consider the cold wash next cycle, consider air-drying your clothes whenever possible, while many countries use dryers many also use the air dry method. Not only will you save electricity, but you'll also be able to get more wear out of your clothes since the dryer can be harsher on your clothes than the natural air
While buying new is nice you don't always have to purchase new, consider buying second hand at your local thrift or an online retailer like thredUP. This method of purchasing is known for lowering demand for new retail goods and keeping old clothing out of landfills, leading to a reduction in the use of finite resources. According to thredUP “if everyone bought one item used instead of new this year, it would save 5.7B lbs. of CO2e.” Another benefit is that used goods are often less expensive than new ones, making it a better option not only for the environment but also for your bank account. Not only is this better for the environment and your wallet but you can find some pieces that may never have been worn again and give them a new life.
When looking to buy instead of going for the fast fashion option instead reach for a sustainable brand. Brands that create zero waste or circular fashion products that you support can help you sleep easy at night knowing you did not contribute to the fashion industry's carbon footprint. Supporting the sustainable alternative is always the obvious answer but sometimes it can be hard to find out who is truly sustainable, be sure to look for certified fibers or look at their supply chain and production to see how sustainable they are.
Whether your clothes are sustainable or not, it’s always smart to keep them long lasting rather than rotting in a dump somewhere. Investing in quality products that will last you a long time to reduce how much clothing waste ends up and the dump. Buying a quality product that you can own for years will reduce your footprint compared to buying fast fashion and having to replace that product after a few washes. The money you spend on a quality product will be made back long term on the money you save spending on fast fashion. Not only is this good on the wallet side of things but it is good on the environmental side of things. Long lasting quality products can be your staple piece for years to come. I still rock my fathers jean jacket he wore in the 70’s , that's 40+ years of circular fashion. It might not hurt to raid your parents closet for staple pieces if they no longer wear them.