It's getting hot out there!!!!
We love to watch our children play, grow-up in a safe, clean environment, but unless we start to put pressure on large Fashion brands; to stop and think about what they are doing to our environment, then our children will be growing up in conditions which could potentially be more harmful and polluting than what we see today! Greenhouse warming is continuingly damaging our climate, our waters, our eco system and our natural environment and sadly the fashion industry is contributing to this problem.
So what is the greenhouse effect?
It's a natural process that warms the surface of our planet. The sun's energy is absorbed into the earths atmosphere, some goes back into space but the majority maintains the earth temperature (33 degrees Celsius) allowing the earth to exist.
Although we love the fact that we seem to have more sunny, warm days than before, unfortunately this isn't actually healthy for our planet. GHG (GreenHouse Gas) emissions have contributed to atmospheric warming that has lifted global temperatures by around 1.1 degrees and this is all because of human activities.
You are probably thinking why are you writing a blog on Greenhouse gases?Well, did you know that the fashion industry is actually the second most polluting industry in the world! It is responsible for at least 10% of the global carbon emissions. That's more than international flights and maritime shipping as discussed by the European Parliament. It's also predicted by McKinsey that by 2050 there will be an expected increase of 1.5 - 5.0 degrees Celsius, across the world. We have already seen on the news the impacts that are already being caused by the greenhouse effect; flooding, fires, droughts and storms, all of which impact on liveability, workability, food systems and natural capital. With temperatures set to continue to rise, it is likely these adverse impacts will become more severe over the coming years.
Why is the fashion industry responsible?
According to McKinsey within the fashion industry 70% of emissions come from the energy-intensive raw material production, preparation and processing. This includes the growing/making of the fibres, the weaving and knitting of the yarn, the dying and printing of the fabric, the manufacture of the garments, all elements that are utilising energies that rely on coal (C2O). We can also talk about mass production process, the amount of overproduction, which in-turn creates waste and when I say waste this isn't just about the garment's themselves, it's also the waste that's created in producing them. A simple solution is it swap from coal to electric energy, which can be a renewable energy - clean energy, that comes from natural sources or processes that can be replenished, which are carbon neutral sources like; sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves… thing that we are currently damaging because of the greenhouse effect!
The other 30% is generated from the distribution actives such as transport, packaging, retail operations, usage and end-of-use. Let's talk firstly about packaging, I don't know about you, but when I make an online purchase, that's organic cotton clothing from a large brand it still arrives in a plastic postal bag and in that postal bag is another plastic bag.. Okay.. the postal bag is biodegradable (in most cases) but the garment bag - not a chance! Do we really need that extra plastic garment bag? By excluding, reducing or swapping to low-density polyethylene it would not only reduce the GHG, but also lower production costs.
We also know that most large brands manufacture outside of their operational countries, which means that the use of air and sea transport is a necessity - but what if they manufactured closer to home? Or took the less toxic option of transport and for their customer deliveries choose logistic companies that offer low carbon emission delivery and alternative transport fleets, such as bikes, electric vans etc… They could potentially reduce GHG emissions by 14%. It's not just about the products though it's also about the brands work environments and their retail spaces, the amount of energy they consume, through heating, ventilation, air conditioning and general retail/office operations. If they started to improve these through making changes and transitioned to 100% renewable energy then they could create an 80% improvement in carbon emissions.
The most worrying thing is that these figures aren't based on the lifecycle, these statistics are based on the amount of garments produced, used and disposed of in a given year. Which is why the fashion industry needs to act sooner rather than later!
Fashion brands need to start to invest in making changes to the way they work; not just the garments but their whole business practice, they need to start to take notice of what the fashion industry is doing to our world and make changes so that they can contribute to improving and supporting the world. They need to support their manufacturing partners and suppliers to enable them to make changes to the way they work and to start encouraging and sourcing more favourable ways of producing. Start to invest in a circular fashion business model, so it's not just about the product being produced in a clean environment, think more about the longevity of the garment; where that garment goes next? Can it be passed-on? Can it be upcycled? Can it be recycled? And finally can it go back to the biosphere safely?
But we can't just blame the fashion industry for creating fast fashion, as consumers we had a hand in making this environment, but the good news is that if we helped create it we can also help to stop to it!
What can we do to help?
We need to start to think about how we can make a difference to our own shopping habits. To ensure that pressure is put on the bigger brands to think more sustainable in the way they produce, transport and operate. To make them think about the full life-cycle of a garment, not just point of sale.
You can also make a healthier choice, prioritise natural materials, avoid fast fashion, look for garments that are certified OEKO-TEX, GOTS or BLUESIGN, wash less and at low temperatures, opt to rent clothing, or shop responsibly, buy less, buy better quality - they will last longer and never throw away unwanted clothing; donate, upcycle or mend and when it can no longer be used please put it in the recycling bins. The less we buy from these big brands the less they will produce, create waste and hopefully make them think about what their consumers actually want.
Isn't it time that we demanded the Fashion industry to create 'slow fashion' instead? So that our little one's can grow up in a safe, fresh and clean environment.