Have you ever thought about what is your personal fashion footprint? How do your personal purchasing decisions effect the environment, and how does this differ from others?
Apparently, the ‘average’ woman buys 34 new clothing items every year. This number has doubled in the last ten years, but how is this possible? Has the average household income increased that significantly? What is making us change our buying habits so drastically?
Well of course, it’s the price!
The average cost of clothes
The average cost of clothes has dropped 36%! So for example, where you were buying an item for 4 euros, you are now only spending 1. We are now becoming obsessed with getting something new for every occasion. So now retailers aren’t changing their design per season. Retailers now have up to 20 collections a year!
Selling items so cheap, and having multiple new collections per year cannot be done sustainably, or with the environmental impact in mind. It is simply too difficult to take proper environmental measures into account if retailers want to keep up with their production levels.
So before you buy, really have a look at the price. Think about whether you really need it, and is this a ‘bargain’ that you will keep and wear multiple times?
Washing, drying, ironing
Of course, we are all mostly clean individuals, and tend to wash our clothes often, it’s normal! However, have you ever stopped to think about the environmental impact of countless washing, drying and ironing?
How many clothes washes does the average household do per day? What temperature are clothes washed at? Are you using a huge energy sucking tumble dryer? How many hours do you spend a week on ironing?
Did you know, that ironing causes more damage to the environment than washing? According to studies, the average household iron energy usage is the equivalent of boiling water for 7 hours continuously. Also, if we are a tumble dryer user, our energy usage doubles!
Unfortunately, the cheap clothes that we buy are usually of very low quality. Hence, it does not make sense economically to spend the money required to maintain them. If you spent only 2 euros on a t-shirt, you may not go to the effort of getting it repaired when you find a hole.
A handy way to extend the life of your clothing is to use them as cleaning rags. It still means that you are saving some emissions from not buying cleaning cloths that have to be produced, dyed and transported.
The main contributor to the fashion footprint is definitely the production. The energy usage, water usage, harsh chemical dyes and transportation all cause large emissions to be produced. It’s no wonder that the clothing industry is now the world’s second biggest polluting industry after the oil industry. Man made fibres are much more common, and it is rare to find fabrics that are 100% organic or natural. Just in the fibre dying process, the amount of water used can vary significantly from 80 litres/kilogram to 800! So even if you are buying natural fibres, you cannot be sure if the correct measures were taken to lower environmental impact along every step of the journey.
Feeling guilty after reading this? Read our blog post to find out the top six tips to reducing your clothing waste impact!