How Exactly Your Wardrobe Affects the Environment

And what you can do about it.

The rise of fast fashion has finally led to widespread public discussion about the waste and unsustainable methods of production. At this point, almost everyone has seen the pictures of landfills full of used clothes which directly resulted from fast fashion.

While the low cost of these stylish clothes can seem enticing, the environmental impacts of fast fashion are widespread and sometimes devastating.

But why exactly is fast fashion so bad for the environment? It mainly comes down to two major things.

Fashion Causes Carbon Emissions

In a study conducted by Quantis, they found that the fashion industry makes up 8% of the global carbon equivalent emissions. Out of this 8%, apparel alone caused 6.7% of all global carbon equivalent emissions.

This makes apparel the fifth most polluting industry in the world.

Other reports have put fashion at anywhere from the fourth most polluting industry to the tenth most polluting industry.

This confusion on exactly how polluting the fashion industry really stems from the wide range of other industries fashion utilizes to create products.

They use cotton and leather, part of the agricultural industry, to create the clothes. Then they use trucks and boats to transport their products.

They also use plastics to create polyester which would be part of the petroleum industry and a whole slew of other industries contribute to fashion.

This makes it extremely difficult to define the exact emissions that stem from the fashion industry.

However, the one thing we do know is that the fashion industry causes a significant amount of carbon equivalent emissions.

Fashion Pollutes Freshwater

Another major area of pollution from fashion comes from the pollution of local freshwater. The textile industry is the second largest polluter of local freshwater.

The water pollution from the fashion industry stems from a wide range of different sources. On the production side, a single cotton T-shirt requires about 257 gallons of water to produce. This is due to the heavy water requirements to successfully grow cotton.

To add to this, the growing of cotton accounts for over 20% of all insecticide use which can run off into freshwater sources of local communities.

Rayon, another common product used in the fashion industry, comes from wood pulp made by pulpwood plantations. These plantations clear cut old growth forests primarily made up of Eucalyptus trees which require huge amounts of water to grow.

The wood pulp is then treated with hazardous chemicals making Rayon a petroleum-based product.

Lastly, clothing made from synthetic products such as polyester release microfibers each time you wash that piece of clothing. Some estimates claim a single wash can release nearly 2,000 microfibers.

These microfibers then leak into the sewage systems and waterways which eventually lead to the ocean causing harm to a wide range of marine animals.

Through these various forms of pollution and heavy uses of water, the fashion industry creates serious concerns for the health of marine life and our local sources for freshwater.

What Can You Do to Limit the Environmental Impact of Your Wardrobe?

Whenever you hear about altering your lifestyle to help the environment, it might seem like you need to change your entire life to make any form of an impact.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Large groups making small changes can help the environment far more than small groups making large changes. So, any changes you can make to limit your contributions to the pollution caused by the fashion industry will help with the overall problem.

One of the best ways to limit the environmental impact of your wardrobe is going for (and later maintaining) a minimalist wardrobe.

This doesn’t mean you need to throw out all of your clothes and wear the same pair of old jeans every single day. A minimalist wardrobe simply means that your wardrobe contains clothes that you actually wear. That’s the basic gist of it.

Shifting your mindset to only buying clothes when you actually need them makes a huge impact on the environment. When you do need something, start with secondhand hauls and sustainable brands.

Last but definitely not least, take care of your clothes! How you treat your beloved garments directly affects how long they last. That’s the main reason we opened our shop and decided to focus on products that help you keep your clothes in pristine condition for years.

Remember: Your actions matter.