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There is a certain amount of cheering that comes from buying something new. I'll be the first to admit it, but lately I can't stop thinking about the downside of this shiny new purchase, which has an environmental impact. Yes, I know that this is the millennial statement of all time, but it is true because in 2015 the greenhouse gas emissions Textile production resulted in more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. On top of that, every secondThe equivalent of a garbage truck with textiles is either burned or brought to a landfill. Fast fashion is a big culprit in this crisis, but it's not the only one because fashion houses (not mentioned) have been caught burning products in recent years, rather than lowering their retail value and laws within the crisis and worldwide have been scaled back or do not exist to regulate the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
For many – even if you are an enthusiastic person Used buyers like me – the emotional stress of having to worry about the impact of the fashion industry can often feel like the joy of clothing outweighs it. But I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way. We, as consumers, will have the ability to reduce the impact of our own closet's carbon footprint, despite industry leaders and government agencies having to take serious action against the environmental and social impact of our clothing. It's just about becoming a conscientious consumer.
If you're not sure where or how to start, that's fine. You will hear from Erin Wallace in front of you. ThredUpTogether with Kathleen Talbot, VP of Integrated Marketing, reformation& # 39; s Chief Sustainability Officer and VP of Operations, who break down like yours shopping habits Environmental impact, tools you can use Check your footprintand you can make small changes costs you nothing or the environment everything. But first a breakdown of the facts …
What exactly is a carbon footprint? Wallace explained, "When we talk about a carbon footprint, it is generally the number of greenhouse gases that result from human activities." She continues: "In the case of a fashionable footprint, it is the amount of carbon dioxide that comes from joint activities is created around your wardrobe – where you shop, how you shop, how you take care of clothes, how you dispose of your clothes – but it is also the emissions that arise during the manufacture of the clothes themselves – from production to packaging from shipping to consumption. It's the entire life cycle. "
The fashion industry has a direct impact on this footprint throughout the trip. From production to sales, every part contributes to environmental pollution. And this pollution is exacerbated by the overproduction of clothing through fast fashion and the widespread use of non-biodegradable and non-recyclable materials. How exactly can you reduce your carbon footprint? Continue reading…
One of the best ways to ensure that your purchase is good for both your wallet and the environment in the long term is to check the fabrics. Choosing natural, biodegradable substances is always the best choice because it is estimated that 20% of industrial water pollution worldwide is due to the dyeing and treatment of textiles. And almost three fifths of all clothing Production ends up in incinerators or landfills within years of being manufactured– Even if you donated this top for recycling.
This is why it is so important to buy brands that use more renewable resources and less water, not just in fabric manufacturing – like the Reformation, which is part of the BEF Water Restoration Program promises to use less water during the fabric manufacturing process – but the best materials for the environment will continue to be used in the long term. Talbot told us, "In the Reformation, we use three sources of material for all of our garments: reused vintage clothing, recycled raw materials, and new sustainable materials." She continued: "With these pieces, we work with other designers and fabric stores to buy leftover or over-ordered fabrics that would otherwise be destined for the landfill."
And although the Reformation's commitment to using the best possible materials is commendable, we have to be realistic about this Most companies don't prioritize these environmentally friendly tactics. What can you do as a consumer? You can donate old clothes to companies dedicated to proper recycling – um, ThredUp – but you can also try to avoid buying the following fabrics.
Invest: linen, hemp, organic cotton, silk
Polyester was developed in the 1940s as a cheaper alternative to cotton and is quickly becoming one of the most commonly used fabrics. It is one of the least environmentally friendly of all, closely followed by rayon and nylon. Not only are these substances non-biodegradable (which means that they do not decompose in landfills), but the production process also uses fossil fuels and excessive amounts of water to make polyester, along with clothing dyes that are toxic and associated with humans to long-term health problems. This substance takes an enormous toll on the earth in production, but does not stop there. When washing at home, the fabric releases plastic microfibers. It is estimated that half a million tons of microfibers are released into the ocean every year, equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. Synthetic fabrics are bad all around, and it's best to choose linen, hemp, or silk pieces if you need light fabrics – and if you want cotton, make sure it's organic because it's non-organic cotton also a burden on the environment.
Avoid: acrylic and newly made cashmere
Invest: alpaca, wool and used cashmere
Don't come for me I know you will love your cashmere, but the demand for this once rare fabric has put pressure on China and Mongolia produce 90% of the world Cashmere to create more of this luxury fabric. As a direct result, herding more animals and increasing the production of new cashmere makes its regions one desert– which in turn has led to inferior cashmere. But virgin cashmere is not the only substance that jeopardizes our resources. Artificially made, water-repellent acrylic fabric literally flammable, And to add fuel to the fire, so to speak, acrylic fabrics often use polypropylene in the production process, which is said to have it same effect as cyanide when inhaling. Instead of buying fabrics that kill the flora and fauna around them, opt for good old wool or alpaca for your winter ready fabric. And if you're still craving cashmere, look for it in thrift stores to get a deal and keep your carbon footprint low.
I will be the first to support this: Second hand shopping is the way to live your life. Not only is this the best way to ensure that your closet is environmentally friendly, you can too Get incredible pieces in almost every price range. Brands like ThredUp. Depop. The RealReal. LePrix, and Vestiaire Collective are among my favorites for Online second-hand shopping, But don't be afraid to shop at your location Goodwill or also consignment business.
"We know that sustainable brands are often quite expensive and unreachable for some consumers, especially when they're used to fast fashion prices," Wallace admits. This is precisely why the relationship between used and sustainable brands is so important – investing in these brands makes them more accessible to more people – and sustainable shopping as a whole plays a key role in reducing the fast fashion footprint. When we approach sustainable shopping, we should see it as a long-term investment in luxury items. The pieces will be part of your life, and over the years, their environmental and financial impact will also be better. After all, shopping from sustainable brands to like reformation The investment is worthwhile because it continues to strive for compliance with ethical and ecological standards in all phases of the product life cycle.
There is no denying that we are living in a time when there is a stigma of wearing the same outfit on Instagram, and this attitude has prompted the average consumer to buy 60% more items This means that we consume clothing faster than we can actually wear it, let alone in one New York apartment, And although I will never judge if you need a fire that fits the gram (not everyone can commit to never buying anything like this again Jane Fonda), There are several solutions to look like "trendy". without buying anything, My favorite thing happens to be test theory.
The test theory is simple: before you commit to buying, try renting it. There are great services like Rent the runway and Nuuly So you can get the feeling of new clothes without actually buying new clothes. Or you can use services like Haute Trader so you can change clothes. However, if you still need a new piece, apply the 24 hour rule. Before you buy anything on a whim, wait to see how you feel the next day. If you still want or need it, get it!
This may seem like a no-brainer, but frankly, you'd be surprised at how much clothing use has declined worldwide over the past 20 years. In the United States, for example, clothing is only worn for about a Quarter of the global averageand it is estimated that the population is losing $460 billion a year by throwing away clothes that they could continue to wear. The best thing you can do for the environment (and your wallet) is to invest in quality parts that you can wear for longer periods that you really love.
"There are so many little things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your closet," says Wallace. First, think about how to clean and care for your clothes. She recommends washing them in cold water and air drying them as the cleaning process uses a lot of energy and water. She also recommends skipping or rarely using dry cleaning as it requires a lot of energy and uses chlorinated solvents (like perchlorethylene) bad for the environment and your health, However, if you have parts that absolutely need to be chemically cleaned, try to find a green dry cleaner that doesn't use toxic solvents. And don't be afraid to repair your clothes over time. Never underestimate the importance of having a sewing kit on hand or a cobbler and tailor on the speed dial.
Wallace confessed: "It is very difficult to say how to get rid of items that are not resellable in their current form in a responsible manner. It is really just an awareness that it is not the solution that you thought to throw in your pocket and deliver it to the Salvation Army. I would say it's a longer story. Keep things longer, buy less, buy better quality things that last longer, buy second hand, and then try to resell whatever You can. It's a whole change in consumer behavior that needs to take place. "With this setting, we recommend that after you've been shopping for smarter and saved parts for longer, if you still feel the need decouple consciously Then try selling it with this tube top at The RealReal, Depop, or your local consignment store. And if everything else fails, you can donate it to ThredUp with a clear conscience, knowing that your 90s-inspired piece doesn't just end up in a landfill as the company is dedicated to the full process of reselling and recycling up to 90 % of the clothes it receives.
As Wallace explained: "It is tight when it comes to breaking down all the granular things that contribute to a carbon footprint, but if you take it apart, there are so many simple things you can do to reduce its environmental impact fight." It's great about the time we live in. It's not the only option to face the whims of fast fashion. There are brands dedicated to developing tools and programs to facilitate conscious shopping and recycling.
ThredUp – that created its signature Carbon footprint calculator This shows you your individual impact – is at the top of this mission and leads the charge on the resale front. Reformation has its RefRecycling program, which allows customers to send their old clothing back for recycling against a Reformation gift card. In addition, there are as many other resources as the app Good to you This allows you to review the environmental and social impact of a brand. And the biggest shock of all is Google. We as consumers have the power not only to research our purchases but also to buy what we believe in. And if our purchasing power goes hand in hand with voting and protesting against major regulations to change our environmental impact, this is a real fashion statement.
Next: 16 sustainable brands that the coolest stylist in NYC told me about