The repercussions of the climate disaster we are witnessing are already being felt all across the world. It is obvious that climate change is not a threat of the future but a reality of the now due to severe flooding, extreme heat waves, increasing sea levels, and biodiversity loss. It may be difficult to handle all the climate fluctuations, along with the many unknowns regarding their potential effects in the future.
While other factors are involved, but climate change is significantly influenced by the fashion industry as well. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. But even so, it seems like the fast-fashion industry doesn't evolve. The whole supply chain is characterized by the exploitation of natural resources, habitat loss, toxic emissions, water contamination, and careless waste management. According to the UN, the sector alone generates 8–10% of all carbon emissions, which is more than all international flights and shipping combined. And the most bizarre thing is that by 2050, this percentage will rise to 26%, and if this system continued at this rate, then the greenhouse gas emissions from the apparel sector would increase by more than 50% by 2030.
These numerous changes can be daunting. In addition to "how fashion influences your carbon footprint," have you ever thought about the real cost of the items in your wardrobe? you still simply cannot comprehend in money even if you have the records. Because the price is one to our earth and ecosystem rather than one that is monetary. As the gravity of addressing climate change keeps growing, various sectors like food, travel, and slow fashion are attempting to lower their carbon emissions with the help of sustainable sectors to save the planet.
So, in order to gain a better grasp of how fashion accounts for carbon emissions, as well as to discover the extra efforts made by slow-made brands and what you as a customer should pursue, keep on reading.
What is Carbon footprint?
A general phrase for the quantity of greenhouse gases (GHG) that something or someone is accountable for is "carbon footprint." It is the entire quantity of greenhouse gases produced by human activity during the creation, use, and disposal of a goods or services. It consists of gases including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.
Our carbon footprint may be roughly split into four categories: food, housing, travel, fashion, and everything else. The average person's carbon footprint is 7 tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per year. Globally, the average carbon footprint is closer to 4 tons. Researchers say that to have the best chance of avoiding a 2°C increase in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year must decline to less than 2 tons by 2050.
How does fashion accounts in carbon footprint?
Have you ever considered that when you "throw away" your garments, they are actually going somewhere, and that somewhere is our environment, our oceans, and our lands?
Fast fashion and the textile industry as a whole have extremely complicated supply chains, making it challenging to calculate all of the emissions produced by just one pair of fancy crop tops or brand-new kurta. It’s hard to visualize all of the inputs that go into producing garments, but let’s take a regular denim jean as an example. The UN estimates that a single pair of denims requires a kilogram of cotton. And because cotton is a thirsty crop and tends to be grown in dry environments, producing this kilo requires about 7,500–10,000 liters of water. That’s about 10 years’ worth of drinking water for one person.
To make it easier for you to understand about such more major negative effects of fast-fashion, we have approximately break it down for you below.
- Approximately 87% of the entire amount of fiber used to produce clothes is burn or disposed of in a landfill, and 12% of all textile waste is generated during the design stage of a garment.
- Every article of clothing ever created from polyester is still in existence since it either isn't biodegradable or takes a very long time to break down. On top of this bizarre fact, 60% of all "new" clothing is made with synthetic fibers, reducing recyclability and increasing environmental impacts.
- It’s one of the world's most water-intensive industries. Around 20% of worldwide wastewater is generated by fabric dyeing and treatment alone, which not only pollutes the water but also has devastating effects on marine life and drinking water.
- Every year, between 200,000 and 500,000 tons of microplastics derived from textiles enter the global marine ecosystem. the danger? Microfibers may go up and down the food chain and are not easily removed from water.
- According to research, the frantic speed of garment production has also increased consumer demand, which has also boosted consumption of fast, low-quality clothing. The average individual now purchases 60% more clothing than they did in the past. Consequently, they not only purchase more but also dump more.
The rapid rate of change that the fast fashion industry not only experiences but also promotes makes it particularly troublesome. Consumers are pressured to purchase the newest things when each season or month changes in order to stay in style. The operational structure of the fashion industry is aggravating the issue by accelerating design and manufacturing. Launches of new collections are no longer seasonal, and inventory replacements for garments are happening much more often. For instance, every week, new designs are offered by any low-cost clothing retailer. According to the experts, 50 billion pieces of new clothing were produced in 2000; over 20 years later, that number has doubled.
Lowering one's carbon footprint from 19 tons to 3 tons doesn't happen overnight! We can start making a tremendous difference by changing just a few minor fashion and lifestyle habits that can have a significant impact, such as reducing our meat intake, avoiding domestic flights, purchasing sustainable clothing, line-drying our clothes, and caring for the clothing we currently have.
How you can reduce your carbon footprint as a consumer
After reading all of the negative implications, you may be thinking, “How to reduce carbon footprint?” or how you, yourself, can lessen your carbon impact. Well, the answer is pretty easy; consumers hold considerable power, and there are various things you can do as a consumer to reduce your carbon footprint.
Here are a few consumer actions you can take to lessen your personal fashion carbon footprint and environmental impacts:
Cherish the clothes you own
Preserving the clothing you already possess is the simplest action you can take to reduce your fashion carbon footprint. Use the cold-water cycle while doing your laundry. Dry your clothes in the shade on a line to increase their lifespan. Additionally, try to avoid washing items that you've worn only once or briefly because, in most situations, they aren't actually that dirty. If you're motivated and committed to protecting our environment, you may go one step further and use 100% natural washing powder.
Reuse, recycle, and donate
Nowadays, for everything you can't get rid of, you have the option to recycle, reuse, swap or donate for a good cause. You can discover a wide range of brands of all sizes that believe in reuse and recycling. Consumers, brands, and the sustainable market are all revolving and growing. From brands taking the lead in making fashion more environmentally friendly by using recycled clothing, natural dyes, to making creative products from organic cotton, orange peel, and bamboo fibers. So, as consumers, let's provide a helping hand by keeping the garments out of the landfill once you've worn them to your heart's content.
Buying organic and planet friendly
Purchasing clothing made of clean and long-lasting materials, such as organic cotton, is another excellent choice because it is cultivated organically without the use of harmful pesticides or chemicals. You can support your farmers and encourage fair pay for them, healthy soil, and water conservation by choosing to buy high-quality organic clothes over cheap wear. Additionally, the durable clothing is safe for you and the environment, and it is easily biodegradable.
Choose locally produced
It feels amazing when you wear and buy clothes made in India, but don't forget your locally produced and readily accessible clothing. Supporting local craftspeople is particularly important since it not only maintains traditional designs and styles but also supports the local economy. Plus, you also save the energy required to deliver your garments to you from overseas, and when it comes to energy conservation, every little bit counts! However, you must be cautious; look into where these textiles and materials were made and how they were dyed.
Shop with ethical brands that value transparency.
Every time you purchase clothing, you are essentially casting a vote for our planet. Supporting sustainable brands that try to promote conscious and slow-made fashion is essential if we want to protect our environment and lower the carbon footprint that fast fashion has left. A sustainable brand must be transparent, so before making a purchase, confirm that the clothing was made in accordance with sustainable practices. For example, only using organic cotton that has received the GOTS certification, using natural dyes, and being conscious of the way its products are packaged by eliminating single-use plastic and favouring the use of reusable cloth bags, as we do at Apanakah.
Steps we are taking as a conscious and ethical brand to reduce our carbon footprint
Now that you are aware of all you can do to combat global warming, allow us to explain what we, as a conscious and slow-made fashion brand, do to contribute to this effort and how we significantly reduce our carbon footprint emissions in the industry.
100% Organic and Naturally Dyed: We only use 100% organic cotton and natural dyes. When compared to traditional cotton, this saves a significant amount of water, emissions, and energy.
100% Made in India: We manufacture all of our items in India from start to finish. Our clothes are handcrafted with love and attention to detail by our local artisans. It has a tremendous positive impact on our energy and carbon footprints.
100% Cruelty-free: We value our animals as much as we value the ecosystem, so we would never produce anything using leather, wool, or fur. But choosing only natural and organic fibers and dye pigments
100% Zero-Waste and Responsible Methods: As a slow-made brand, we only use the fabric that is required to make our garments. In addition, we provide inventory sales for the designs we created for the sampling process. So, cutting waste also means cutting emissions!
100% Sustainable Packaging: We use only reusable clothes bags and recyclable boxes for our packaging.
100% Transparent and Honest: As a brand, we are very open and honest about how we create our products, thereby promoting sustainable customer behavior.
Real solutions will need a collective effort, but there are everyday choices you can make to help the planet and lessen your personal environmental impact. As consumers, we have the power to drive change in the global textile and fashion industry. We can help the planet, people, and animals tremendously by reducing the ecological footprint of our wardrobe and adopting a more sustainable approach to fashion.