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How Fashion Affects Our Climate and What You Can Do To Help



Climate change is a global issue that refers to the long-term changes in the Earth's climate including temperature change, weather events, and more. These changes are caused by human activities, primarily by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. This emits greenhouse gases which are released into the atmosphere and cause the Earth's temperature to rise.


A big contributor to climate change is the fashion industry. From the production of clothing and textiles to their disposal, every stage of the fashion supply chain has a significant carbon footprint, which leads to a detrimental effect on our climate. It also affects our planet with the level of waste ending up in landfills, transportation of goods, effects of fast fashion, and more. Fashion pollution is a global issue, and it is crucial to recognize how this impacts our environment and how we can change our fashion to become more sustainable, reducing its long-term effects on the planet.


Production of materials


The fashion industry produces a lot of greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions which is more than the aviation and shipping industry combined. This is due to the production of clothing and textiles requiring significant amounts of energy, water, and raw materials. The production process involves farming, spinning, weaving, dyeing, and fishing, all of which need energy and resources to do. This process includes making key materials such as polyester and cotton.


A main contributor to the carbon emissions produced by the fashion industry is the use of synthetic materials such as polyester. Being made from non-renewable resources called petrochemicals, it isn't biodegradable, the use of chemicals is harmful, and it is made by the burning of petroleum which pollutes the planet.


Another contributor to the fashion industry's carbon emissions is cotton, which is a water-intensive crop. Usually grown in dry regions, it takes a lot of groundwater resources and rainfall to successfully grow. The growth and production of cotton is also bad for the climate due to the runoff of pesticides and other chemicals. Because of this, cotton directly affects the environment and climate.


Landfill


Did you know that 11 million garments end up in landfill each week in the UK alone? Due to the success and growth of fast fashion brands such as Pretty Little Thing and Shein, there is an ever growing amount of waste ending up at landfill sites. At landfill sites, the clothing decomposes and releases methane (a greenhouse gas) however, it takes a long time to get to this stage and the collection of clothing pollutes our environment in other ways such as polluting the ocean.


Despite the UK being one of the biggest causes of this problem, it is a global issue that results in 92 million tonnes of waste (increasing to 132 million tonnes by the end of the decade, if it continues) and 79 trillion liters of water waste per year.


Transportation


Furthermore, the transportation of clothing and other fashion goods results in a vast amount of pollution. Both shipping and air travel if fuelled by the burning of fossil fuels which increases carbon emissions and therefore contributes drastically to climate change.


What you can do to help


The carbon footprint of one new shirt is greater than driving a car 35 miles, and the majority of online clothing returns end up in landfill so here is what you can do to do your part in saving our climate:


- Donate your used clothes to charity shops - other people can repurpose them and they can find a home rather than going to waste.


- Buy 2nd hand clothes yourself - using platforms such as vinted, or even popping into your local charity shop helps both the environment AND your pocket!


- Sell your used clothes online - if you don't want to give your items for free, sell on Vinted, Facebook marketplace, or other sites to earn a bit of money back on the pieces you no longer need!


- Reduce purchasing online - as previously mentioned, lots of returns end up in landfill so let's help to reduce this!


- Shop local - shopping locally will result in lower carbon emissions from your product, in contrast to purchasing from big brands who supply their goods from other countries.


- It's not just fashion that affects our climate! Look into other ways you can help to reduce your carbon footprint.

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