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Posts tagged ‘secondhand’

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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Green Your Holiday Celebrations This Season

wrappedpresents

Photo Credit: m01229 via Flickr

Despite the unusually high temperatures, holiday season is upon us. Instead of being bogged down by the “buy, buy, buy,” we’re offering suggestions to help green your holidays.

Here are tips on creating your own gifts and reducing waste.

Gifts: ‘Tis the season for spending. But you can still give amazing gifts without draining your bank account. Consider donating to a non-profit organization on behalf of a loved one, upcycle items into trendy new gifts, or make your own lotions or soaps. From “Do It Yourself” green gifts to sustainable wrapping, our Green Holiday Pinterest board has suggestions to help create a more sustainable holiday season.

Another idea, create a SoKind Registry, which allows you to ask for secondhand, gently used and handmade items, you can even request something as simple as a helping hand. SoKind has a fun tagline to keep in mind this holiday season – “More fun, less stuff!”

When you do head out to the stores, make a point of supporting local businesses. When you shop local, more of your dollars stay in the community. Local First Utah has a wonderful directory of Utah businesses on their website. Check out our list of Salt Lake City e2 businesses and consider supporting both a local AND green business!

Holiday Meals: The principles are evergreen, so check out our “recycled” Five Quick Tips for A Greener Thanksgiving blog post and our Green Thanksgiving Pinterest board to green your holiday meals.

Additionally, our Green Holiday Pinterest board has pins for minimizing the use of meat in recipes — vegetarian dishes have a lower environmental impact. And buy local! Pick up your local fresh vegetables from the Winter Farmer’s Market on December 20th, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Setting Your Table: Resist the urge to purchase single-use table settings. After their one use, they go right to the landfill where they take years to degrade (if they ever!) If you’re hosting, ask your guests to pitch in to help wash dishes. If you’re headed to a celebration away from your home, pack up some silverware, plates, and cups (or a water bottle) and bring them along. The extra ten seconds it takes to pack up your own dishes saves landfill space and energy.