What is Your Fashion Carbon Footprint?

What is a carbon footprint, and how are your choices effecting it?

What is a Carbon Footprint?

A carbon footprint is how much CO2 was produced by you or your organization in the space of a year. The amount of CO2 that is produced is measured by your actions, such as the fuel you use for transportation, the type of materials used in your product, and how much waste you produce.

Every time we purchase something, we are voting with our dollars for the kind of world we want to see. When it comes to sustainable fashion, making informed choices is more important than ever. By measuring our fashion carbon footprints, we can identify the areas where we need to make the most change.

What Impacts Your Carbon Footprint?

There are many factors that impact your carbon footprint, but some of the most important are:

  • The type of materials used in your products
  • How far your products must travel to get to you
  • How much waste is produced in the manufacturing and shipping process
  • How sustainable the production process is

How Do We Measure a Carbon Footprint in Fashion?

There are a few ways to measure your fashion carbon footprint. One popular way is to use a carbon footprint calculator. [link to THREDUP (https://www.thredup.com/fashionfootprint) ]

This calculator asks you about your daily activities, such as how often you wash your clothes or buy new ones, daily energy use, and then estimates your yearly fashion carbon footprint.

Another way to measure your fashion carbon footprint is to look at the environmental impact of different materials. For example, the manufacture of synthetic fabric may release harmful chemicals into the air and water, while the production of natural fabrics such as cotton or wool may have a lower environmental impact.

Conversely, a synthetic fabric producer may actually be “greener”, if they recycle plastic bottles (a common practice producing recycled polyester). Whereas a manufacturer of natural fabrics may be less environmentally friendly when producing cotton.  Non-organic cotton is a water-guzzling plant and sometimes requires many pesticides and additives.

How Often Do You Buy New Clothes?

Fast fashion is one of the biggest environmental offenders when it comes to fashion carbon footprints. The average American throws away 81 pounds of clothes each year, and the average European tosses 63 pounds.

Globally, we discard around 1.2 million tons of clothing every day.

One of the best ways to reduce your fashion carbon footprint is simply to buy fewer new clothes.

Would you prefer to have 10 tops that you absolutely adore, that make you feel great…? Or 100 tops that are cheap and cheerful?

Repair your clothes, upcycle your clothes, donate your clothes before you toss them in a landfill.

Do You Purchase Your Clothes Online or In-store?

According to Thredup, shopping online can do 60% less environmental damage than shopping in-store. This is because nearly 85% of the store’s impact is created while driving there.

If you aren’t in a rush for the item, don’t get express shipping. Standard shipping takes another 50% off the environmental impact your new items create.

Another thing to take into account is looking for sustainable fashion brands.

When you are shopping for sustainable fashion brands, it’s important to look for certification labels. The most common sustainable fashion certifications are: GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), Fair Trade, and B-Corp.

Also look out for materials such as recycled polyester, organic cotton, organic linen, tencel, and modal.

Do You Shop With the Intention of Returning?

“I’ll just get one of each size and return the one which doesn’t fit.”

Sound familiar? Well, as logical as it sounds, shopping that way has a massive impact on the environment. Only 50% of returned items are restocked and resold, with up to 25% ending up in landfills.

Online shopping is still one of the greener ways to shop, ifyou must purchase a new item. Just remember to opt for a mailed service where possible and take your measurements to get the best fit possible.

How Often Do you Buy Secondhand?

Buying secondhand clothes can help good causes – think charity shops, fundraisers, and more. And also eliminates about 70% of your carbon emissions!

This is because you aren’t using fossil fuels, like petroleum, to make a new garment. In fact, you are also not sending an item to a landfill. This is sustainable fashion at its best!

Do You Wash Your Clothes Often?

Washing your clothes does not necessarily make them cleaner. According to sustainable fashion experts, the majority of the time, our clothes don’t need to be washed half as often as we do.

However, washing your clothes can be very sustainable fashion-friendly. Just use cold water and hang your clothes after you wash them, and skip the tumble dryer.

Reducing the energy consumed in cleaning your clothes can reduce their carbon footprint by up to a mind-blowing 75%.

Dry cleaning your clothes uses some pretty intense toxins to clean certain garments. When looking for a dry cleaner, ask if they use a non-toxic chemical such as GreenEarth solvent or something similar.

Remember, sustainable fashion is about choosing sustainable materials, sustainable manufacturing, sustainable consumption behavior–not just buying sustainable clothing.

Rent-A-Dress

If you have that awe-inspiring event coming up, and you want to go in something jaw-droppingly beautiful – a real one-night-only fashion piece – consider renting a dress over buying one.

Let’s face it, most of us have a plethora of beautiful dresses in our closets gathering dust. We could have saved money, and wardrobe space, if we had rented instead.

With the rise of renting designer dresses and handbags, this is becoming an increasingly easy and accessible option.

Renting a garment reduces its carbon footprint up to 30% over the life of the garment, which means renting is both a money-savvy and sustainable option.

Repair or Upcycle

If you decide to upcycle your clothes instead of buying new ones, it will reduce the amount of material that has to be manufactured for new clothes.  Not to mention, you are getting good use out of your clothes.

When your clothes get a small rip or a button pops off, repair the item to get longer wear out of your items too.

Sustainability is key when it comes to fashion, and it’s important that we all do our part. Taking these small steps will have a big impact on the environment in the long run.

How Do You Dispose of Your Clothing?

Landfills are getting larger and larger, and we all know that change needs to happen.

Take a small step towards a better future by responsibly disposing of your clothes. Either repair them and donate your clothes or make sure they are recycled, if possible.

In the US, a staggering 85% of clothes end up in landfills with only 15% being donated, reused, or sold.

Tailor-Made Advice

If you want to get some staple pieces for your wardrobe, why not consider getting sustainable fabrics.

We at Ethical Elements have researched each and every supplier to make sure that the fabrics are sustainable and are ethically sourced with a transparent supply chain.

We research how the fabrics are made, what resources are used, and which resources are restored to make sure the fabrics and textiles we stock are high quality and have the lowest environmental impact possible.

Why not get in touch, and we can work with you, your designer, your tailor, or even recommend a tailor to you.

That way you get a bespoke garment for you or your family, that will bring you many years of joy.

What Can You Do to Reduce Your Fashion Carbon Footprint?

There are many things you can do to reduce your fashion carbon footprint, but some of the most important are:

  • Choosing sustainable materials whenever possible
  • Buying products that have been made close to home
  • Reducing waste by buying only what you need and recycling or reusing what you can
  • Supporting sustainable fashion brands and retailers

Measuring your fashion carbon footprint is an important step in becoming a more sustainable consumer. By understanding the impacts of our choices, we can make more informed decisions about the kind of world we want to see.

For more information on sustainable fashion, please visit our website www.ethicalelementsme.com or get in touch on +971 58 559 7971

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Bamboo

The fast growing grass has made its mark as an eco-crop. From construction to homewares to fabrics, bamboo is having its moment in the limelight. But given that some claims associated with bamboo have been disputed, such as its sustainability, UV protection, and antibacterial properties, is it really the miracle crop many are claiming it to be? Is bamboo fabric sustainable?

Bamboo itself can be a highly sustainable crop, if grown under the right conditions. While most bamboo fabrics on the market are a form of rayon where the manufacturing process is intensive and involves harmful chemicals, recent years have seen an improvement in how these chemicals are managed, which is a step in the right direction. Bamboo fabrics are certainly a step up from polyester and conventional cotton, so as long as the brand is transparent about its origins, it can be a safe bet as a more sustainable option.

  • One can wash bamboo fabric by hand or in a washing machine, but it is absolutely important to use only cold water, never warm or hot water during this process (maximum recommended temperature: 60°C).
  • Wash bamboo clothes after turning them inside out, for best results.
  • Use a minimal amount of soap, and wash gently along with other clothes of similar colors, in short cycles.
  • It is important to rinse the clothes well to get rid of all the soap.
  • Never use softener or bleach on these clothes as they significantly reduce its life.
  • The cloth should never be dried in direct, strong sunlight, as this can cause permanent damage.
  • Bamboo fabric should never be dried in a machine dryer, as this causes it to shrink and lose shape rapidly.
  • Dry cleaning bamboo fabrics should be avoided as far as possible.

Modal

Modal is manufactured from cellulose using chemical processing, just as are bamboo, rayon (viscose) and lyocell. In the case of modal, the cellulose comes from softwood trees.  The manufacturing process is closed loop, which means that the chemicals used in processing are captured and reused. The small amount of discharged is considered non-hazardous. The finished textile is biodegradable and also takes well to natural dyes, eliminating the need for more harmful chemical dyes. Although in most cases modal is still dyed with conventional chemical dyes.

  • Beech trees are harvested, chipped, and cellulose is extracted from the pulp.
  • Next, the cellulose is made into sheets, which are soaked in sodium hydroxide.
  • Those sheets are broken into smaller pieces, which are soaked in carbon disulfate. This produces sodium cellulose xanthate.
  • Cellulose xanthate is soaked in sodium hydroxide again. The subsequent liquid solution is put through a spinneret, which is a device with a series of holes that help create fibers.
  • The created fibers are soaked in sulfuric acid to form yarn. Once washed, bleached, and dried, the yarn is loaded onto spools.
  • From there, the yarn can be woven or knit into a fabric to form modal.
Good news Modal can be washed in the washing machine with warm water. But if you know me, you know I prefer cold, it uses way less energy. It can also be machine dried (use the gentle cycle), but I highly recommend air drying your clothes. I’ve got a whole guide on how to do it right. Never use bleach on delicates fabrics, it breaks down the fibres and I always recommend using more natural, eco-friendly detergents for all your clothing. You can think of the care in the same way you would good linen. If you have lingerie or undies made from Modal, hand wash or use a mesh washing bag.

Organic Linen

Organic linen comes from a flax plant that is farmed without any use of toxic chemicals at the farming or processing stage.
The flax plant usually grows naturally in Western Europe, in temperate climates.

  • We recommend always using a low temperature or cold wash.
  • Use gentle detergents that are environmentally safe, and use a washable garment bag for particularly delicate items. Do not use fabric conditioner.
  • For stains, pre-soak and do not use an iron until the stain is completely gone.
  • Wash inside out and with like colors.
  • Do NOT wash with garments that have Velcro or zippers to avoid abrasion marks.
  • Always air dry when you can.
  • If you must iron, use a medium temperature iron and test on an inconspicuous piece first.
Organic linen is made from flax, a natural raw material. Flax is a recyclable fiber that does not need irrigation. It also requires almost no chemical treatment. All parts of the flax plant are used, ensuring no waste.

Peace Silk

During the production of conventional silk, the cocoons are boiled or steamed in a process known as stifling, which kills the silkworm to prevent it from piercing its way out of the casing and breaking the thread into shorter filaments. In 1990, Indian sericulturist Kusuma Rajaiah came up with a way to produce silk without harming the silkworms which gave birth to Ahimsa silk, also known as peace silk (ahimsa means non-violent). The principle of peace silk is to allow the silkworm to emerge from its cocoon before the silk thread is harvested.

  • When not in use keep it protected in a cloth bag. The easiest step to care for organic silk. (all our scarves are delivered in a dust bag use that to keep your piece protected).
  • If necessary, before use you can iron out your scarf or cape. This removes the wrinkles if any.
  • You may store it rolled up in your dust bag instead of folding to avoid creasing but it is not necessary.
  • It is best to be worn multiple times because it is not the closest garment to your body, and then dry cleaned if necessary. No need to dry clean after every use.
  • It is enough to just air and shade dry. If required iron with a regular iron on medium heat for optimal sanitization.
  • Try not to spray your perfume or any other aerosol, e.g. hair spray on your silk item.

Peace silk is exactly the same as regular silk, the only difference is during the production of traditional silk, the silkworm is boiled alive but with Peace Silk the top of the cocoon is gently cut open to allow the developing moth to escape and to finish its natural lifecycle outside of the cocoon. It is a very peaceful, non-violent way of harvesting silk and a final product that cannot be duplicated by machines.

Organic Hemp

Hemp fabric gives all the softness of other natural textiles, but with a strength that is an amazing 3 times higher than cotton.
This unique durability makes it uniquely hard-wearing and long-lasting.

  • We recommend always using a low temperature or cold wash.
  • Use gentle detergents that are environmentally safe, and use a washable garment bag for particularly delicate items. Do not use fabric conditioner.
  • For stains, pre-soak and do not use an iron until the stain is completely gone.
  • Wash inside out and with like colors.
  • Do NOT wash with garments that have Velcro or zippers to avoid abrasion marks.
  • Always air dry when you can.
  • If you must iron, use a medium temperature iron and test on an inconspicuous piece first

Hemp fabric is a long-lasting and durable fabric which is made from the long strands of fiber that make up the stalk of the plant.
These fibers are separated from the bark through a process called “retting.”
The retted fibers are then spun together to produce a continuous thread (or yarn) that can be woven into a fabric.

Recycled Polyster

Recycled Polyester, much like traditional polyester, is a man-made fabric.
However, recycled polyester is made from recycled plastic such as plastic bottles.

  • We recommend always using a low temperature or cold wash.
  • Use gentle detergents that are environmentally safe, and use a washable garment bag for particularly delicate items.
  • Wash inside out and with like colors.
  • Always air dry when you can.
  • Should not have to be ironed, but if you do, use a medium temperature iron and test on an inconspicuous piece first.

Recycled polyester is made by breaking down used plastic into small, thin chips. These thin pieces and chips are then melted down further and spun into yarn, which is then made into fabric.