A Quick Guide To Cutting Your Closet's Carbon Footprint

Last updated on : February 05 2022

Clothes

Introduction

Everyone has differing beliefs concerning how humankind was born into existence, whether people really have souls, and whether or not they have somewhere to go after death. With thousands of religions shared across the globe, communities can only agree to disagree.

Regardless of what you believe in or not, one fact remains—all humans only get to stay for a short while on this planet. In the small amount of time we're given to live, it's crucial to make the most out of every moment and do our part in taking care of the Earth.

But, doesn't this sound like an impossible task?

Saving the Earth: An Unattainable Dream?

One doesn't need to listen to a clairvoyant to believe that the world is coming to an end. With the natural disasters destroying communities, man-made innovations devastating the environment, and the pandemic ruining the economy, life is beginning to seem a bit bleak.

No one would blame you if you lost all hope for the future. Humanity has been instrumental in leading the Earth to its current state. Due to man's greed and self-centeredness, we are now dealing with food insecurity, climate change, wars, poverty, and many other serious issues.

At this point, all signs point to doom, and there is very slim hope that you and the succeeding generations would get to live a happy and comfortable life. However, no matter how little the chances, there's always the slight possibility that things could turn out okay.

Although saving the world sounds like what a comic book superhero would do, anyone can lend a hand in addressing the most pressing problems today. Saving the world starts in your home—every little thing you do can have an impact, including changing up your wardrobe.

The Impact of Clothes

Your garments are a basic need, as they keep you warm during the cold season and cozy once the warmer months arrive. However, more than just keeping you comfortable all year round and protecting you from external elements, your wardrobe can significantly influence your life on a deeper level.

Clothes make the man—what you wear and how you wear it shapes your behavior and affects your performance in various areas of life. For example, dressing in a business suit commands more respect in a corporate setting than wearing a shirt and pair of jeans. 

Your wardrobe can be your source of confidence! By dressing up to show your individuality, you may feel more comfortable in your body and find it easier to live the rest of your days. However, besides personal benefits, your clothes can also help or harm the environment.

The Dark Side of the Fashion Industry

Too many are unaware of the impact their clothes have on Earth. As more become interested in buying affordable, quality clothing, the production of clothes increases, further adding to the global carbon emissions. 

The impact of fast fashion can be seen everywhere. Some of the most notable effects of fast fashion's rise in popularity include:

1. Rapidly Depleting Non-renewable Resources

To consumers, fast fashion is a good thing, as they get to purchase nice clothes at low prices. However, they don't know that clothing manufacturers of fast fashion companies are consuming precious resources that we can't replenish quickly.

Fossil fuels, in particular, are crucial to the production of fast fashion clothing. As production increases, the fossil fuel supply decreases, prompting the mining of this non-renewable source. Moreover, mining fossil fuels contributes to climate change and air pollution.

Once all of the non-renewable resources are exhausted, only a few countries will adapt. No non-renewable resources mean more people, specifically the poorer communities, will struggle to have a good quality of life.

2. Microplastics Polluting the Ocean

The ocean is home to majestic and fascinating creatures, but unfortunately, so are human waste and substances such as microplastics. 

These plastic polymers are a severe threat to marine life—their micron size makes microplastics easily mistaken as food by corals, zooplanktons, lobsters, fish, and more. When microplastics are present, they can lead to entanglement and ingestion, risking marine biota.

To lower the cost of production, many clothing producers use materials that release microplastics into the water system and eventually the ocean. Besides buying clothes from fast fashion brands, washing the said clothes also contributes to pollution in the sea and the extinction of marine life!

Clothes hanged on the rack

3. Increase in Child Labor 

The fashion industry is more than just clothes—it relies on natural resources, machinery, and human resources to produce a large volume of clothing at a rapid pace. To meet the market's demands, many clothing producers rely on child labor.

Many workers involved in making clothes for fast fashion brands aren't old enough to work. It is possible countless children are being forced to make clothes, depriving them of their right to proper care and nutrition, education, and their right to live as children.

The children in developing countries offer an opportunity for businesses to cut costs while ensuring precision and delicacy, which are necessary for manufacturing some types of clothing. Due to the lack of regulations, children continue to fall victim to these unjust practices.

Many industries have begun making the necessary measures to keep their processes ethical and sustainable, hence the popularity of eco-friendly packaging solutions, but the apparel sector has a long way to go.

Clothes and the Carbon Crisis

The fashion industry is bright, glamorous, and diverse, but it is also harmful, particularly to the environment. With the sector accounting for 8-10% of global carbon emissions, we must do something to reduce the carbon footprint in the apparel sector

The vast selection of clothing is a shopper's dream but a nightmare for humankind. When you look at the big picture, too many clothes are harmful rather than helpful. 

The thing is, more clothes are being produced than people are buying and wearing them. As a result, the apparel sector is creating a lot of waste

Overconsumption and overproduction have led to an unbelievable amount of waste. This waste causes 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions annually released by the fashion industry. 

The use of cheap materials has added fuel to the fire—producing polyester releases more carbon emissions than cotton, and it doesn't break down in the ocean.

To help prevent these issues from worsening, you must also do your part. Of course, one person can't single-handedly fight fast fashion, but there is one thing you can do that will steer humankind towards a brighter future—cutting carbon from your closet.

How to Cut Your Carbon Footprint

Each individual has the power to reduce global carbon emissions. With significant lifestyle changes, you can, in your small way, help address the most pressing issues while still dressing up as you like.

Here are a few ways you can try to create a more sustainable wardrobe:

1. Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

Part of the cause of fast fashion's increase in carbon emissions is how often people buy and replace their clothes. Many like to diversify their wardrobe and get the currently in style pieces. They discard clothes that are either no longer wearable or stylish.

The best way to cut your carbon emissions is to purchase quality items instead of cheap, trendy clothes. Sturdy shoes and well-made wardrobe staples may be more expensive, but they will suit every season and last for years or even decades.

To avoid buying a whole set of new clothes, stock on essential items that match well with more expensive pieces. This way, you can still look fashionable while being sustainable.

2. Take Care of Your Garments

While clothing manufacturers are mainly responsible for the quality and life of your clothes, how you take care of them will also affect how long you can keep wearing them. Every piece of clothing needs some TLC—make sure to read the care labels so that you can keep wearing your clothes for a long time.

Laundry powders and detergents may also affect the quality of clothes and the environment. The fossil fuel-based substances in standard detergents aren't biodegradable, leading to environmental problems. 

Rather than always relying on the washing machine, consider hand-washing some clothes and using eco-laundry powders and detergents. 

Through these small ways, your most treasured clothes will last longer, and you won't have to buy them as often.

3. Buy Second-Hand Clothes

New doesn't always mean better. Sometimes, you can find hidden treasures in second--hand clothing stores! If you're on the hunt for affordable, quality items, you're sure to find unique vintage pieces.

Contributing to the circular economy helps cut the global carbon emissions the fashion industry causes, among other environmental benefits. 

Moreover, wouldn't you feel much better knowing that you're giving a second life to beautiful clothes while also helping save the planet at the same time?

Final Thoughts

The fashion industry has a deep-seated problem across multiple countries. If you don't want to contribute to the devastating impact of fast fashion, make sure to cut your wardrobe's carbon emissions. 

Who says you can't be stylish and sustainable? By following the tips mentioned above, anyone can save the planet and be their hero.

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