Fashion Conscious: How climate change affects our health
It’s estimated that more than two tonnes of clothing are bought each minute in the UK, more than any other country in Europe. That amount produces nearly 50 tonnes of carbon emissions – the same as driving 162,000 miles in a car.
In one month alone, the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK is greater than flying a plane around the world 900 times.
Obvious actions stand out – flying less, driving less, taking more public transport. But how about buying fewer new clothes? With the global textile industry producing more greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined – it could be a more important change than we think.
From growing the cotton to the dyeing process, it can take an estimated 20,000 litres of water to make just one pair of jeans and one t-shirt. To put this into perspective, it would take more than 13 years to drink this amount.
Climate change adversely affects not only our physical but our mental health and presents danger to our food and water security, whilst increasing our risk of infectious disease.
It’s as simple as this: healthy people need a healthy planet. Here’s what you can do to help.
Second Hand September, coined by the charity Oxfam, is an initiative to put a stop to throwaway fashion.
Oxfam is encouraging fashion-lovers to rethink the month that’s usually associated with Fashion Week, retail and the start of autumn dressing, instead urging shoppers to put away their credit card for 30 days to help the planet.
Throwaway fashion is having a lasting effect on our planet, which is of course unsustainable. This is where #SecondHandSeptember comes in – a pledge that encourages you to say no to new clothes for the month.
So, for this month why not make eco-friendly choices when it comes to clothes.
Shop vintage and second-hand – Buying vintage means you can get really creative with your individual style and think outside the box when planning outfits. Take a trip to your nearest vintage or charity shop and get rummaging for some hidden treasures.
Don’t overwash your clothes – According to Fashion Revolution, up to 25% of each garment’s carbon footprint comes from the way we wash and care for it. Too many clothes are ending up in landfills before they need to, all due to overwashing.
Rent your wardrobe – One way to help tackle fast-fashion is by changing the way you think about shopping. With fashion being one of the most polluting industries in the world due to high demand, sharing our wardrobes makes a lot of sense.
Although rental fashion isn’t a new phenomenon (Rent the Runway, for example, has been in operation for over 10 years), an increase in environmental concerns has made hiring clothes more popular than ever.
Choose eco-friendly fabric – Choosing an eco-friendly fabric is complex as there are pros and cons to all fibre types. Garments which are labelled as being made from natural fibres are not necessarily better than synthetic, as fibre choice is only one part of a complex picture. Fibres still have to be spun, knitted or woven, dyed, finished, sewn and transported – all of which have different environmental impacts.
For example, choosing organic fabrics is better than choosing non-organic fabrics in terms of the chemicals used to grow the fibres, but organic cotton still requires high amounts of water and the impact of dyeing it is higher than the impact of dyeing polyester.
Climate change is among the greatest health risks of the twenty-first century
Carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels is driving climate disruption and warming our planet. It’s simple: the more carbon pollution in the air, the more the sun’s energy gets trapped as heat. Which means things keep getting hotter. These rising global temperatures disrupt natural systems, leading to more and more extreme weather events like severe droughts, flooding, wildfires, and superstorms, alongside numerous other major impacts that will affect the health and well-being of every person on the planet.
Change your mentality around consumption
Challenging ideas around consumption and focusing on what we really need as opposed to what we really want will help make our wardrobes more sustainable, which will have a dramatic impact on the world around us and our own wellbeing.