Sustainability is our only option if we are to guarantee the future of our planet.
It sounds dramatic, but it is the reality.
Experts predict that we have just 12 years to prevent irreversible damage caused by climate change, also known as global warming.
Industry, and each of our personal actions all contribute to this warming, and therefore it is each of our responsibilities to help slow it down.
Perhaps surprisingly, it is the fashion industry that is often quoted as being the 2nd most polluting industry in the world. It is a resource and energy intensive sector that relies upon toxic chemicals, exploitation and overconsumption.
But what we wear can be used to send a message about the values we stand for. So, at Teddy Locks we are providing cleaner alternatives that can help us all lower our footprint.
Not only does wearing slow, clean, ethical fashion help share the sustainability message - it supports better practices which protect and prevent further damage being done to our vital ecosystems.
But why is fashion so polluting?
There are three main factors in how the clothes we buy impact our planet
- how it is made, how much is made and how long it lasts.
How it is made:
There are two main groups of fibres that go in to making yarn and fabric. These are natural fibres – like cotton, wool, and silk, and synthetic fibres – like polyester, nylon and elastane. And making either of these types of fibres comes with its own set of problems.
For natural fibres land first needs to be cleared for crops to grow or for animals to roam, while synthetic fibres often need oil to be extracted from the earth. Both can contribute to habitat destruction, biodiversity loss and a decline in soil quality.
After set-up, production begins. Fibre production is resource heavy, requiring thousands of gallons of water, fertilisers, pesticides and fossil fuels.
Once the yarn is produced it must be dyed. In many dye-houses waste water isn’t treated, meaning that toxic chemicals get released in to vital waterways. Local communities often rely upon these waterways for food, water and bathing but experience declining food availability and increasing sickness due to textile pollutants.
Once dried, yarns are woven into fabric for cut and sew garments. And most clothing patterns produce large volumes of off cuts – textile waste that is rarely recycled and commonly ends up in landfill.
The processes in producing a single garment are labor and resource intensive, but large scale devastation is being caused because of the masses of garments being produced.
How much is made:
It is estimated that 80 billion new pieces of clothing are consumed every single year!! Yet there are only around 7 billion people on the planet.
Instead of stores following historical spring/summer and fall/winter seasons many companies are now having 5 seasons or releasing new items every week.
In fact, so much clothing is being produced that brands are actually burning the stock they have been unable to sell.
How long it lasts:
But it is not just the number of items we are buying, it is also how we care for the ones we have. Fundamentally we wash them too often, wear them too little, and toss them too soon.
Laundering our items actually damages the integrity of them. Microfibres are released from all garments each time they are washed (meaning they gradually get thinner and less durable), the detergents we use can contain polluting chemicals and our driers are energy intensive.
But many garments are never worn more than just a few times. Instead, because they are sold at the lowest possible prices they are considered disposable.
While some consumers donate their 'used' items to local charities much of the clothing no-longer desired is simply thrown away. Thrift stores taking in these items work hard to recycle or sell the items coming in, but they cannot sell them fast enough. Instead, much of it ends up being shipped overseas, where markets are now flooded with second hand clothing, that nobody wants.
So what can we do?
It is hard to consider the footprint of each of our day to day decisions when we don’t directly witness the consequences they can have, but small changes in our habits can have big impacts.
Only purchase garments made from organic and recycled materials.
Choose items that have been made from zero waste patterns or with non-toxic dyes.
Thrift, swap and share items with friends and family.
Shop Fair Trade or Made in the USA.
Use soap nuts, fibre catchers and dryer balls.
Buy less, wear more. Wash cold, hang dry.