it’s a new season in colorado and winter is right around the corner. time for new hoodies, beanies, leggings, and maybe a new scarf. but wait. do you know how these items were created? the impact they have on our environment? let’s throw out some facts.

  • textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally.
  • it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans.
  • 1.5-2.5 trillion gallons of water are used by the fashion industry each year.
  • 150 billion pieces of clothing end up in landfills each year.
  • the fashion industry creates 5x more CO2 than the aviation industry.
  • the fashion industry is responsible of 10% of the total carbon emission the world.
  • it takes up to 1000 years to decompose shoes.

now, let’s talk about polyester:

  • it takes between 20 to 200 years for polyester to break down, unlike natural textiles like silk, cotton, and wool that take only 1 year to break down.
  • a single polyester garment can shed >1900 microplastic fibers per wash, which enter the water system and ultimately our oceans. fish consume those microplastics and we consume that fish.
  • a recent study in california found that 1 out of 4 fish sold in a fish market contain harmful microplastics.
  • polyester is energy intensive to produce. it requires 8x more than linen.
  • 90% of dye houses and textile factories release their waste directly into local fresh water supplies in developing countries.

it gets worse…

all of the elements of fast fashion: trend replication, rapid production, low quality, and competitive pricing, add up to a large impact on the environment and the people involved in its production. brands like forever 21 use toxic chemicals, dangerous dyes, and synthetic fabrics which seep into water supplies in foreign countries (where the clothing is made) and at home when the clothing is washed.

these processes affect the humans who wear them, and the humans who make them. some garments and accessories even have dangerous amounts of lead in them, and exposure to lead increases one’s risk of infertility, heart attacks and more. skin is the largest organ of the body and putting on these poorly made items on it is dangerous all on its own. this danger only grows in the factories, towns, and homes which are used to produce these items.

a garment worker’s health is constantly being jeopardized through their long hours, lack of resources, exposure to harmful chemicals, and often physical abuse. the people who make fast fashion clothing have been confirmed to be underpaid, underfed, and pushed to their limits because there are often few other options.

maybe you have, but most likely you haven’t realized that all that cheap, toxic clothing you’ve purchased was created in a factory in bangladesh. roughly 6 years ago, 1,134 garment workers died when their factory building collapsed in dhaka, bangladesh due to cracks in the building’s structure. factory bosses forced workers to enter the building to earn a wage of $95 a month.

watch the true cost on netfilx to learn more about the fast fashion industry.

watch stink! on netflix to learn about the toxic chemicals in your clothing.

choose used:

so maybe that is enough ranting about the toxic clothing industry. let’s talk about what would happen if everyone bought just one used item instead of new this year. we would save:

  • 5.7 billion pounds of CO2 emissions – equivalent to half a million cars taken off the road for a year.
  • 11 billion kWh of energy – that’s the amount of energy it would take to light up the Eiffel Tower for 141 years!
  • 25 billion gallons of water – you know those bellagio fountains in vegas? that would fill 1,140 of them.
  • 449 million pounds of waste – the weight of 1 million polar bears!

where to shop:

buying used is easy at thrift stores and consignment stores. but sometimes shopping at thrift stores can feel a little dirty. and consignment stores may be too far away, too expensive, or not your style.

my favorite online second-hand store is thredUP (use this link to get $10 off). their website is super easy to navigate and their phone app is even better! they have over 2 million items to choose from for women and kids with over 40,000 new items everyday. plus it is so easy to sell your old stuff! pack it all in a box and send it to the company FOR FREE! if your item is too worn for wear, it gets donated or recycled. items that sell puts a credit in your account!

ebay is also a great outlet to find used items for sometimes half the cost!

if you must buy new, search for eco-friendly, sustainable stores online. my favorite is tentree (use this link to get $10 off). every tentree item is made using a blend of sustainable fabrics. whether it is organic cotton, recycled polyester, cork, or coconut; you can feel good about how your product is made, and what it is made with! plus ten trees are planted for every item purchased!

“At tentree, our goal is to become the most environmentally progressive brand on the planet. We don’t want to just reduce the negative impact of the apparel industry, we want to use it as a vehicle for change. Our purpose is to revitalize our environment and inspire a generation to believe that they can do the same. Our goal is to plant 1 billion trees by 2030.”

– tentree.com

a little bit to add…

buy green and high-quality

you get what you pay for. save the environment and yourself some money by buying something that will last.

forego toxic detergent and fabric softener.

it is so freaking easy to make your own detergent. once you finish what you have, reuse the container and fill it half full of borax and half full of washing soda (we use arm & hammer). that is literally it. if you must need some fragrance, add some shavings of bar soap into the mix. you’ll save the environment and some money!

for fabric softener, simply pour half a cup of white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine (or put it in during the rinse cycle if your washer doesn’t have one). to get your clothes smelling extra sweet, add six drops of essential oil like lavender or lemongrass to a scrap of cotton from an old shirt, and toss in the dryer.

don’t dry clean.

conventional dry cleaning requires the use of perchloroethylene, a nasty recognized carcinogen that’s also a suspected neuro-, reproductive-, respiratory-, developmental-, kidney-, skin-, and gastrointestinal-toxicant. you can get away with washing silk and wool items at home. follow bond’s instructions here. you can always have them professionally pressed at the dry cleaner without toxic cleaning. if you need to have an item professionally cleaned, look for wet cleaners and CO2 cleaners, which use less-toxic, perc-free methods. find one at nodryclean.com.

if you made it all the way to the end, i salute you! thank you for taking the time to care.

article inspiration credit