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.
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.
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