In my previous post, I spoke about how blogging represents for me a Sustainability Leadership Opportunity. Now, given I am asked to pick up another one for the two years that I am on the Master in Sustainability Leadership programme, I have decided – coherently with the topic I have chosen for my dissertation – that my sustainability opportunity will be to move to a ‘100% sustainable wardrobe’.
Why is this a significant challenge to take on?
– Total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production is estimated to be 1.2 billion tonnes annually, more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined
– In the UK, around 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in household black bins every year, sent to landfill or incinerators
– It is estimated that more than half of fast fashion produced is disposed of in under a year.
– The average lifetime for a garment is estimated to be about 2.2 years, roughly half of what it used to be in 2000
– Clothing utilisation has decreased by 36% compared to 15 years ago. In the US clothes are worn for around a quarter of the global average.
– It can take 2,700 litres of water to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt, enough for one person to drink for 900 days
– Less than 1% of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing representing a loss of more than USD 100 billion worth of materials each year
– Synthetic microfibers are being found in the deep sea, in Arctic sea ice, fish and shellfish
– Forced labour is used to pick cotton in two of the world’s biggest cotton producing countries, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
– In Bangladesh, last January one worker was killed and 50 others injured after police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at some 5,000 workers protesting over low wages
(sources: A new textiles economy: redesigning fashion’s future by Ellen MacArthur Foundation; The State of Fashion 2019 by McKinsey and BOF; FIXING FASHION: clothing consumption and sustainability by House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: Bangladesh strikes: thousands of garment workers clash with police over poor pay by the Guardian)
This data is shocking and indicate the urgent need for transforming the industry and the way we consume fashion.
What does it mean for me?
The above information and the many articles I read weekly on the topic led me to reconsider the way I shop for fashion. Although I have made already a few steps in the right direction – I did not buy clothes/shoes for many months, I wash my clothes with short cycles and at low temperature, I do not tumble dry nor iron my clothes, I gave away clothes I was not using to charities – there is much more I can do.
There are three areas I would like to focus on:
1. Build a repertoire of sustainable brands to shop from
2. Learn how to mend and repair my clothes. Even learn how to knit some of my clothes/accessories!
3. Reduce of 1/3 my wardrobe by giving away everything I have not used for a quite some time and organising one swap event with friends a year (which has the benefit of talking to them about fashion waste and nudge them to buy less!)
In the following months, I will report on this blog on my progress, learnings, challenges, frustrations and successes. And hopefully, inspire other people to join me on the journey!