There are lots of lifestyle changes you can make to go green, from little things like remembering to carry reusable shopping bags and water bottles to more ambitious swaps like changing your commute or going vegan. But have you thought about what's in your closet? One of the most overlooked sources of pollution can be found in your clothes and the industry that creates them. Consider the impact of the fashion industry below, and read on to see how you can make small changes that help. —Vita Daily
air pollution. Each year, global textile production creates 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, that's even more than the pollution caused by international flights. If the clothing industry were a country, it would have the fifth-highest carbon emissions in the world (behind only the U.S., China, India and Russia).
waste. Each year, more than 15 million tonnes of textile and fabric is discarded in the U.S. alone. Consumer demand for fast fashion has created a world in which trendy clothes are worn for a matter of months or even weeks before heading to the landfill. Synthetic fibres, which are used in 40 million tonnes of clothes each year, remain in a landfill for hundreds of years.
water pollution and consumption. Synthetic fibres can also pollute the water, as micro-fibers are released in washing machines over time. Clothing production also negatively impacts water supplies in some parts of the world, as the use of certain dyes and treatments has introduced toxins such as lead, mercury and arsenic into local drinking water supplies. Cotton is also a very water-intensive crop. It takes 20,000 litres of water to produce just one kilogram of cotton, equivalent to one T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
pesticides. Globally, the fashion industry's cotton production accounts for as much as 18 per cent of all pesticide use and 25 per cent of insecticide use. These chemicals are known to cause adverse health effects on those who come into contact with them.
So, what steps can you take to lessen the impact of your closet on the environment? The classic "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" message applies here:
> Reduce the amount of "fast fashion" clothing you buy. It's better to find a few great pieces that fit you well, go with everything, and can be worn for a long time. Use great accessories, bags and shoes to brighten up old pieces and give them a new lease of life.
> Reuse clothes by having a clothing swap with friends, or try finding second-hand or vintage shops. It's a great way to find affordable clothing that still has plenty of wear left in it.
> Recycle clothing by swapping, selling or donating it, if it's still in wearable condition. For clothing that's truly worn out and no longer usable, look for textile recycling facilities in your community. Don't put clothing or household textiles in the normal domestic waste bin, as it goes straight to landfill.