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How developed nations (Worst Polluters) can lesser their carbon footprint by adopting sustainable fashion

I don’t want to offend person of any nationality but developed nations are the worst polluters and US is the leader of the herd. Now is the time, people with conscience need to take action and change the world.

Remember US, as a leader you have more responsibilities apart from dropping bombs and ruining civilizations. At the same time, I am not undermining your contribution towards development of science and technology. Please read on…… and pardon me if I offend anyone.

Add one Hemp item in your wardrobe today, and slow down your consumption.

First things first. 

What is the carbon footprint?

Carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, object, place, or service. These emissions are expressed in the carbon dioxide equivalent.

Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, which contain the carbon molecule, can be emitted through various activities. 

Your carbon footprint is calculated by the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that your lifestyle contributes to the environment. Emissions generated by your food, clothing, transportation choices, and more.  

In 2019, the United States produced 6.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the US is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. 

China, the country with the largest carbon footprint, produced 10.1 billion metric tons.  

The number is deeply unsettling.

The population of China in 2019 was 1.4 billion and the US’s population was 329 million. Hence, the average American’s carbon footprint is much higher than the Chinese individual. 

As an American, you contribute more than twice as much greenhouse gas to the atmosphere as the global average.

It is time for you to evaluate your choices. Your choices regarding your clothes, food options, source of fuel, etc. have a huge potential to change your carbon footprint. 

The fashion industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, an easy way for you to reduce your carbon footprint is to look for more sustainable fashion. 

The fast-fashion industry is gnawing at the heart of the earth

When you think about reducing your carbon footprint, you might first think about cars and recycling. That’s because you aren’t aware of the consequences of unsustainable fashion. 

Your favorite fashion brands are the largest polluters in the world. 

In 2018, the fashion industry was responsible for 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This number accounts for 4 percent of the global total. 10% of the global carbon dioxide emissions come from the fashion industry. 

What you choose to wear has a huge impact on the environment.

  • The fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of water worldwide. Even if you choose only organic cotton clothes, you are still consuming a commodity that takes a huge toll on the environment. Your one cotton shirt can require more than 5,000 gallons of water. 
  • Synthetic fibers which are less water-intensive cause a lot of pollution during the manufacturing process. 
  • More than 60% of the garments you come across have polyester. Polyester releases two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton. 
  • Materials like spandex, nylon, and synthetic use up to 342 million barrels of oil every year. That’s right, your yoga pants are made from oil. 

Avoid these widely available fabrics to cut down your carbon footprint.  

Big brands that you might frequent like Zara, Gap, H&M are fast fashion brands. Fast fashion makes clothes cheap, trendy, and accessible. You get the feeling of luxury without paying the full price.

But there’s more. 

  • You discard 80 lbs of clothes each year. Hence, it contributes to solid, non-biodegradable waste. In total, up to 85% of textiles end up in landfills or incinerated each year.

  • Even if you donate clothes, most clothes end up in developing countries. In those countries too, last year’s fashion fills the landfills. Hence, the excess waste is incinerated.  
  • Only 2% of your fast fashion garments are manufactured in the U.S. These brands outsource manufacturing to China, India, and Bangladesh. These countries run on coal-based energy sources. Coal has adverse effects on air and water quality and contributes greatly to the carbon footprint. 
  • As an average American, you purchase about 70 pieces of clothing each year. You wear half of these clothes three times or less. Hence, you should reevaluate your choices and think about where your clothes are coming from, and how it’s affecting the environment. 

What is sustainable fashion and greenwashing?

Sustainable fashion usually means eco-friendly practices in the fashion industry. Green methods are adopted in designing, producing, and consuming clothes that respect the planet. They cause little to no damage to the planet.  

  • To consume sustainable fashion, you should keep three aspects in mind- labor, environment, and animals.
  • Most of your clothes are manufactured in third-world countries. Workers are made to work for long durations at minimum wage, and in inhumane working conditions. Hence, your clothes are generally a product of exploitation.
  • Materials derived from animals like fur and leather should also be ideally avoided. Your 1 kg of mink fur equals an emission of 110 kg of carbon dioxide. Faux fur has a significantly lower environmental impact. 
  • Before buying a clothing item, look into what fabric is being used and its impact on the environment. You should also look into the material it uses for packaging. 
  • You consume sustainable fashion when you purchase a product that minimizes exploitation in these three aspects. 

Many brands like Zara have tried to repurpose plastic bottles into clothes. Sources like renewed cotton are used to minimize wastage. However, in reality, only a very small percentage of the total material is repurposed raw material. 

H&M claims to have started a ‘Garment Collecting Program’ to accept any clothes. Almost 90% of these clothes end up either burned or in trash. 

The sustainable clothing lines launched by brands like Zara and H&M make meaningless claims. You will often see the words ‘eco-friendly’, ‘sustainability’ etc. However, the U.S. has no set legal definition of sustainability. These words are often meaningless. Hence, how they achieve this sustainability is unclear.

Brands like these are ‘greenwashing’ you.

The ‘green’ is reserved for mere outward appearance, used only in packaging and labels. 

They try to convince you that they are more eco-friendly than in reality. They accomplish this by reporting misleading and ambiguous information on their annual reports. 

They hide the key information from you. 

Hence, to consume sustainable fashion, it is best to steer clear of these brands and the false claims that they make. Do not fall for mere labels.

Can one truly save the earth by choosing sustainable fashion?

To know if what you’re consuming is sustainable, you need to put in the research. You need to inquire about materials, sources of energy, and waste management. Needless to say, you have to avoid fast fashion. One of the smartest and most effective things you can do is switch to a sustainable fabric like hemp.

  • Buy less. Be mindful of the clothes you purchase. Every time you buy an item of clothing, it encourages the brand to make more. 
  • Wear longer. If you wear your clothes nine months longer, it can reduce your carbon footprint for that garment by 30%. 
  • Buy high-quality clothes. Low-quality clothes as generally found in fast fashion are not meant to last long. Hence, these clothes will end up in landfills.
  • Buy second-hand clothes. Because you’re buying something that already exists, you don’t cause any excess depletion resources.
  • Host or attend cloth swaps. If you’re bored with your old clothes, simply exchange them with your friends or neighbors, so that it doesn’t increase your carbon footprint.
  • Read the label. Many clothes end up being thrown away after the first wash because you don’t follow the wash instructions. Follow the care instructions to ensure that your clothes last longer.  
  • Mend your clothes. Don’t simply discard your clothes because of a small tear. Take out your sewing machine and turn it into a cool design.
  • Switch to a sustainable fabric like hemp. Even if you do make all the above-mentioned changes, in the long run it’s not going to make as huge a difference as switching to a sustainable fabric. Man-made fabrics like cotton, polyester, nylon etc. are a huge burden on our resources and cause pollution. 

Hemp Clothes: Is That The Answer?

We need to find a material that behaves like these fabrics but is sustainable. We can find this fabric in the plant hemp.  

  • Hemp is not marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are both from the cannabis family, however, hemp has a low content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), thus, it does not cause any psychoactive effects. 
  • Hemp has been demonized. But it carries the potential to save our planet.
  • Hemp has the potential to achieve the expectations of fabrics like cotton and nylon, but without causing adverse effects on the environment. 
  • Hemp grows really fast. You can harvest hemp up to four times a year. It is a low input crop so it requires less or no pesticides and insecticides and requires a fraction of the water needed for raw materials like cotton. 
  • While your typical cotton T-shirt can last up to 10 years, a hemp T-shirt may last double or triple that time. Hemp fabric is also much stronger than cotton. 
  • Apart from all these convincing reasons to switch to hemp, your hemp fabric gets softer with each wash. The process to wash and maintain hemp fabric is very easy. So, you do not have to worry about ruining your hemp clothes. 
  • Your hemp fabric is lightweight, hence highly breathable. It facilitates the passage of moisture from the skin to the atmosphere, so you can conveniently wear it in hot climates. The fabric is also highly resistant to mold, mildew, and potentially harmful microbes.
  • Hemp is truly the ideal textile to make clothing. 

Hemp Foundation works with the motto of sustainability. Cultivating in the villages of Uttarakhand, the foundation also trains women and local farmers to produce a variety of hemp-based commodities. They’re also using barren land for cultivation. 

Purchasing from Hemp Foundation ensures that you get 100% organic hemp fabric backed by the mission of sustainability. Your fabric is not only sustainable but also ethical.  

Act Now, Because The Clock’s Needles Are Ticking Towards The Day Of Reckoning

Fashion is a huge part of our individual expression and culture. However, this expression should not come at the cost of our planet.

Your clothes are generally plastic and oil. Take a look at our oceans, we’re clearly not recycling enough. Plastic is phenomenal, but it’s going to stay with us forever. 

This is an issue where you can make a big difference.

You need to switch to more sustainable practices and ideally, hemp fabric. Researching and buying clothes is a hassle. You never know which report to believe and which brand to trust. However, with hemp fabric, you know that it is an environmentally sustainable fabric. 

Even if you’re unable to switch your entire wardrobe to hemp-based clothing, purchasing even a few items will have a positive impact on the environment. 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas_emissions_by_the_United_States

https://www.sustainability-times.com/low-carbon-energy/china-has-a-larger-carbon-footprint-than-the-developed-world/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080428120658.htm

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/fashion-on-climate#

https://sewport.com/fabrics-directory/hemp-fabric

https://www.citizenwolf.com/blogs/news/why-hemp-is-the-most-sustainable-fabric

https://ecofriendlyadventurer.com/sustainable-fashion/

https://us.cnn.com/2021/04/22/cnn-underscored/sustainable-fashion-brands/index.html

https://elle.in/article/fashion-carbon-footprint/

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