The fashion industry is one of the biggest industries there is and accounts for around 10% of the world’s carbon footprint. In fact, it is estimated that the mass production of clothing and accessories is responsible for the emission of around 1.715 billion tonnes of CO2 yearly. While we cannot stop the entire industry from polluting the environment, there are things we can do to reduce the impact the industry has on the planet. Here are a few guidelines for shopping sustainably.
1. Shop online
Some of the environmental pollution associated with the fashion industry comes from customers driving to stores. Consumers might drive to one store to buy a product, then drive to another to search for a better version of the same product and so on. This increases pollution levels. If you can walk to the store, that is perfect, but shopping online reduces gas emissions further. While purchases must be delivered, the service acts as public transportation, carrying a lot of clothes at once and using less fuel. When you shop online the clothes come directly to you without each individual having to go to the store, thus saving on fuel.
2. Buy certified products
Tests are available that ensure products are fully certified and are made of non-hazardous chemicals. You should also buy products that are made using environmentally conscious processes. The Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) is a certification for textiles with around 70% organic fibres. You can check if these standards approve the product you are buying before purchasing it.
When you buy a product, you should consider the conditions involved in its production. The method of production should be ethical, compensating the workers with fair pay, treatment and safe working environments. The materials used should also be environmentally friendly. An excellent example of a company that maintains an ethical practice is Debenhams. Its focus is having a minimal negative impact on the environment. In 2018, it diverted its waste products away from landfill, which included donating 6.3 tonnes to the Salvation Army. It also reduced its carbon footprint by about 21%. What’s more, the company does not support animal testing and has a no-fur policy. Debenhams supports multiple charities and has a £1 million annual fundraising target too, and the company promotes body positivity and diversity. In its campaigns it uses Help for Heroes rehabilitated troops, a Paralympic athlete, women up to the age of 70, and size 18 models to showcase their products.
Buying second-hand clothes is a recommended move when it comes to reducing environmental pollution. It ensures that no clothes are wasted as opposed to buying new clothes and dumping old ones. Plus, when you buy used clothes, there is less demand for new clothes, hence reducing the impact manufacturing has on the planet. Another tip is to buy from thrift shops that give some of their profits to the poor. You can also donate some of your old clothes to these stores instead of throwing them away.
You don’t have to throw away your old clothes when they get torn. You can repair and continue to use them, such as cutting down torn jeans below the thigh to produce a pair of shorts. If you can find a tailor who can patch up your clothes, go right ahead and do it. It is not only economical but also environmentally friendly as you get to dispose of fewer clothes. If your clothes are beyond repair, send them to textile recycling programmes who will reuse the fibres.