Do you ever feel like you’re swimming in clothes? Well the reality could be more literal than you think.
Fast fashion waste is hurting the planet – UK fast fashion habit sends 10,000 garments landfilled every five minutes. This equates to Â£ 140million in proceeds each year.
But it’s not just the end of life of clothes that has a negative effect on the environment.
As 10,000 liters of water used to produce a single kilogram of cotton, clothing manufacturing also has an impact.
Fashion is responsible for ten% of all greenhouse gas emissions, while aviation 2%, something discussed at COP26. Earlier this week, designers such as Burberry and Stella McCartney gathered at GREAT Fashion for Climate Action, to discuss the acceleration of sustainable practices in fashion.
Now new research from DIFFERENCE reveals the true scale of ephemeral fashion and how our clothing consumption has opened the floodgates to climate change, contributing to contamination and environmental damage.
How damp is your wardrobe?
Open up your closet and take a good look. How many pairs of jeans do you have? Hoodies and T-shirts? Open your drawers, what about your socks, underwear and bras? You always have more than you think; your wardrobe is jam-packed.
But do you know how much water it took to produce all of these items? It turns out that a lot. The GAP study reveals that it is necessary to:
- 7,250 liters of water to produce a pair of jeans
- 3,350 liters of water to produce a hoodie or sweatshirt
- 1,500 liters of water to produce a jacket
- 850 liters of water to produce pants or boxers
- 550 liters of water to produce a bra
- 375 liters of water to produce a pair of socks
If you think it’s a big splash, prepare for a tsunami.
When we look at the average size of a UK wardrobe, our water usage really adds up. The average person in UK has 5 pairs of jeans, 7 hoodies or sweatshirts and 10 t-shirts or shirts. In addition, our drawers contain 34 pairs of underwear, 22 bras and 22 pairs of socks.
The water used to produce this collection of clothing is astounding. The average jeans collection needs 36,250 liters of water. Hoodies and sweatshirts need 23,450 liters. T-shirts and shirts require 15,000 liters, while our combination underwear uses 45,950 liters of water.
Drink what you wear
It’s clear that our obsession with fast fashion is drying up the planet, but when you consider our water consumption in terms of drinking water, the impact becomes clearer.
The average person drinks 691 liters of water per year. This means that our jeans collection has used 52.5 years of drinking water for one person.
More sustainable options are needed to reduce our water consumption and our impact on the planet. The solution: organic cotton and outfits that stand the test of time.
Organic outfits save water
Where fast fashion uses 10,000 liters per kilogram of cotton, organic cotton production uses only 9% of its less sustainable alternative. Obviously, in order to reduce the consumption of water for making clothes, we need to buy more organic cotton products.
Compared to the 174.6 years of drinking water that a normal cotton wardrobe consumes, a collection of organic cotton pieces would only use 15.7 years of drinking water. That’s a 91% reduction.
While that’s still a lot, it’s a drop in the pond (and the obvious choice) when placed next to the other option.
How does organic cotton use so much less water? This is because organic cotton does not involve genetically modified crops, which require more water for a faster and larger yield. Pesticide-free soil also helps reduce water consumption.
There are even more additional benefits:
- 95% of the water used for growing organic cotton is âgreen waterâ. This means that most of the water comes from rain or from water stored in the ground.
- This too reduces water pollution by 98% avoiding pesticides and fertilizers that contaminate water and harm natural habitats
Consumer clothing expenses have increased every year since 2005 (except 2020, possibly due to the pandemic). In 2019, the British spent 63% more on clothes than in 2005.
The key to solving this problem lies in bullion coins. To reduce our fashion footprint, the best thing we can do is buy more durable, quality clothing that stands the test of time. Finding cuts that remain in fashion beyond the current season is the key to recovering from the failures of fast fashion to protect our planet.
We should prioritize quality over quantity. Keeping and wearing our clothes longer can help reduce the amount of clothing going to landfill and the water used in manufacturing.
Retailers such as GAP have demonstrated their ability to produce more sustainable clothing options. Providing organic cotton clothing means people can make that choice. Their Washwell program also uses 20% less water and waste in the manufacture of their denim jeans, saving 402 million gallons of water since 2016. That’s enough to fill 804 million water bottles. The hope is that you will feel more confident in your straight jeans, both in your appearance and in the way you help the planet.
At the end of the portability of your clothes, you can always donate them to a charity store or save money; turn your jeans into a bag or your old hoodie into a pillow. The extension of their lifespan helps to extend the sustainable investment.
In modern slang, the word âdrippingâ is used to describe someone who is extremely fashionable. But the next time you put on your best yarns, think about the environmental cost of your outfit – you might just get soaked.