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Posts tagged ‘clothes’

Can Fashion be Sustainable?

On this blog and in general sustainability circles, we often talk about the environmental and health impacts of plastics, vehicle emissions, buildings, air travel– even the food we eat.

But today we want to take a deep dive into something we haven’t discussed very much. It’s a sector which is lesser-known, but hugely impactful in terms of waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions. We’re talking about clothing and textiles.

Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans throw away 25% more trash than during the rest of the year?!

As the Black Friday flurry and holiday gift-buying season approaches, it’s a good time to be mindful of this impact and how we can take charge of minimizing our environmental footprints.

It may come as a surprise, but the fashion industry is a significant contributor to our landfills, as well as to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, almost as much as the entire European Union!! The clothes industry also creates plastic pollution, threatens public health and the environment through intense chemical pollution, and takes up an enormous amount of landfill space.

Clothes are definitely a necessity and are also a fun way to express one’s creativity. But today, we want to emphasize the impact of the textile industry and why we need to think more carefully about the clothing purchases we make.

Laying Out the Issue

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the environmental impacts of clothes production include:

  1. High reliance on nonrenewable resources
  2. High use of hazardous chemicals
  3. High land use (competing with agriculture)
  4. High greenhouse gas emissions (1 ton of textiles generates 17 tons of CO2)
  5. Textile production requires 93 billion cubic meters of water annually (4% of the global freshwater withdrawal)
  6. Microplastic pollution into the ocean
  7. Poor working conditions for garment workers (slavery and child labor included)

These impacts are increasing due to the rise of fast fashion.

Global Material Flows for Clothing in 2015 (Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015)
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Climate Week: Five Actions You Can Take Today!

ClimateWeek-Web-2

Climate action starts with you! Here are five simple actions you can take today to begin reducing your climate impact.

1. Use Cold Water Detergent and Cold Water Setting for Clothes Washer

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 1,270
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $92

Heating water consumes a lot of energy – 90% of the total needed to wash your clothes – always use a cold-water setting and detergent.

2. Replace Your Furnace Filter and Manage Your Thermostat

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 1,800
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $124

Every degree F saves 3% on cooling / heating – set to 60 at night or unoccupied during winter and 78 in summer.  Dirty furnace filters waste energy and should be changed every three months.

3. Properly Inflate Your Tires and Ride with Hive

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 400 (tires only)
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $95 (tires only)

Regularly check and inflate your tires to improve MPGs by 3% – more tips to save fuel at FuelEconomy.gov.
SLC residents, visit RideWithHive.com for details on the City’s discounted transit pass.  Just $42 / month, a 50% discount, gets you unlimited rides on the bus, TRAX and S-Line.

4. Replace at Least Five Lights with LEDs

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 500 (per five lights)
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $40 (per five lights)

90% of the energy used lighting an incandescent bulb goes towards generating heat, not light.  LED lighting is the cheapest lifecycle cost option – purchasing plus operating costs – and Rocky Mountain Power offers great incentives for homes and businesses.

5. Use Reusable Water Bottles and Mugs – Plus, Downsize Your Garbage Can

Emissions-Icon Pounds of CO2 Reduced Annually: 580 (Reusable Drink Containers Only)
Money-Icon Annual Savings: $150 (Reusable Drink Containers Only)

Manufacturing bottles, cans and other drink containers takes energy and creates emissions.  Reduce your footprint and save cash by using reusables.  SLC residents should Google SLCgreen for many more waste tips and additional ways to save, like downsizing your garbage can.  Moving from a 90-gallon bin to a 40-gallon bin will save you $87 / year on your trash bill.  There is also a 60-gallon option that will save you money.