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The Clothes We Wear

Ayla Dunn Bieber gives us the scoop on clothing, fast-fashion, and the textile industry–and it’s not a good look! Luckily she provides plenty of resources, new ways, of doing things, and inspirational ideas for consuming less…

Hello everyone! Let’s dive right in to another topic…

Another layer to this wasteful mess we humans have created is brought to you by the clothing industry. High water usage; pollution from chemicals used to grow fibers for clothing and chemicals used in dyeing and preparation processes; the incineration and landfill-dumping of massive amounts of unsold clothing. Its clear that this industry, and our consumption habits, need to be seriously looked at.

Some not-so-fun facts to get your wheels turning:

  • It takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton shirt. To put these numbers in perspective, the amount of water needed to make a t-shirt is enough for one person to stay hydrated for 900 days while the amount of water needed to make a pair of jeans is equivalent to hosing down your lawn for 9 hours straight. [1]
  • The production of 1 kilogram of cotton garments uses up to 3 kilograms of chemicals [2]
  • “When people think of trafficking, they often associate it with the sex trade, but about 50% of trafficked victims, including children, are sold into forced labor. It’s taking place in developing countries and parts of Europe where markets and factories go unregulated. The fashion industry is unfortunately rife with trafficked workers and forced labor.” [3]
  • Overall, one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or incinerated every second [4] This is due to consumers not recycling their clothes, as well as fashion brands wanting to get rid of leftover stock as a way of preserving product scarcity and brand exclusivity. [5]
  • Up to hundreds of thousands of plastic microfibers get washed out of our synthetic clothes each time we wash them (AND 60% of the clothes produced are made of plastic [6]). These microfibers end up in our water systems and eventually in the ocean (and then into fish and into us!). Please watch this 2.47 minute video on this hidden problem with our synthetic clothes.

 

What needs to be done:

With basically every sustainability topic, the thing that will have the most impact is to BUY/CONSUME LESS. This holds true for clothing too. We need to buy AND throw away less. For the clothes we do have, we need to care for them (repair them and wash them properly) so that they can last as long as possible.

When you want to wear something new – consider borrowing, swapping or thrifting before buying a brand new piece of clothing! Dyeing, cutting, and re-fashioning old clothing are also all ways to breathe life into older clothing. Our friends at The Fiber Craft Studio are hosting a plant dying “cafe” on Friday, April 26th where you can use indigo plant based-dyes to give your clothes a total update.

If buying new:

  • Always ask yourself it is something you really need first
  • Buy quality
  • Consider the fiber it is made out of: hemp, soy silk, linen, organic cotton and wool (depending on how the animals are treated) are good sustainable choices
  • Stay away from: polyester, nylon, acrylic, rayon, modal and non-organic cotton

When you are ready to get rid of clothing:

  • Have a clothing swap with friends (try it seasonally!). We’re hosting one today, Earth Day (April 22nd from 11 AM to 4 PM) at the Hungry Hollow Co-op!
  • Donate to a thrift store
  • Recycle them! Almost 100% of textiles can be recycled
  • Never let clothes and other textiles go into the garbage!

Want more?

Watch You Are What You Wear a 16 minute long Ted Talk

Read Why I’m Boycotting the Clothing Industry Plastic Pollution Coalition

Check out Upcycle That

Read the Consumption Section of Close the Loop

Watch How Your T-Shirt Can Make a Difference 2 minutes long

Check out some great infographics from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

 

Also! Our friends at The Hungry Hollow Co-op have generously offered this exclusive coupon to readers of The Sustainability Scoop:

 

What are some ways you can breathe new life into old clothing? Let us know in the comments!

 

Thriftily Yours,

Ayla

 

Sources:

1 “8 Little Known Facts About Our Clothing Habits” Planet Aid, Inc., 28 July 2016, www.planetaid.org/blog/8-little-known-facts-about-our-clothing-habits. [Accessed 17 April 2019]

2 “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future – download the report infographics” The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 6 Dec. 2017,

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/news/a-new-textiles-economy-redesigning-fashions-future-download-the-report-infographics [Accessed 17 April 2019] 3 “The Big Issues Facing Fashion in 2019” Forbes. 16 Jan. 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccasuhrawardi/2019/01/16/the-big-issues-facing-fashion-in- 2019/#3781476323a9 [Accessed 17 April 2019]

4 “A New Textiles Economy: Full Report” The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 1 Jan 2017. https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Full-Report_Updated_1-12-17.pdf [Accessed 17 April 2019}

5 https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonbird1/2018/09/09/fashions-dirty-little-secret-and-how-its-coming-clean/#6bd9a51d1771

6 https://www.circulardesignguide.com/fibres

Meat: An Exploration

Ayla Dunn Bieber tackles the subject of meat consumption and how reducing it is the best way to fight climate change…

Meat: it is a hot topic. Below we will be looking strictly at the environmental impacts of eating meat. Spoiler alert – It’s a doozy!

All of the text that I’ve highlighted in green below was taken directly from https://veganuary.com/why/environment/. I found their website hugely informative and well sited and wanted to provide you with direct quotes.

image source: www.gotdrought.info

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, farmed animals contribute 14.5 percent of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than every car, plane, truck and train on the planet. [1]

The largest single cause of deforestation is agriculture. [2] Meaning, due to our global meat demand, we are cutting down the earth’s rainforests to clear more land to either graze game (mostly cattle) or grow crops to feed these animals. We’re losing 18.7 million acres of forests every year – that’s equivalent to 27 soccer fields every minute. [3]

Humans have wiped out 60 percent of animal populations since 1970, with many scientists believing we are in the era of a sixth mass extinction, and the first to be caused by a species. [4]

The three leading causes of this unprecedented massacre are:
-Destruction of habitats, largely to create farmland
-Wild animals being eaten
-Fishing [4]

In fact, agriculture and over-exploitation (including fishing) are significantly greater threats to biodiversity than climate change. [5] Quite simply, eating animal products is destroying our wildlife.

When you read these statistics, how do you feel?

I felt shocked, disgusted, admittedly skeptical, and then ultimately, horrified. Truth be told, I’d been hearing whispers of information like this for some time. But, I chose to look the other way as I very much enjoyed eating meat and felt like my body needed it. That all changed abruptly a few weeks ago, when I got together with a few members of our camp Administration to watch the film “Cowspiracy”.

After watching this film (which did spark debate within the scientific community around how the filmmakers quantified and calculated GHG emissions), I could not ignore the elephant in the room any longer. Though the UN’s 14.5% estimate (the first quote in this article) is likely more accurate than the higher emissions percentage suggested by “Cowspiracy”, the truth is still overwhelmingly clear: WE MUST REDUCE OUR MEAT CONSUMPTION. It is clear that it is the single biggest thing we, as individuals, can do to reduce climate change.

For me, one of the most impactful lines in the movie was last one: ‘You can’t call yourself an environmentalist and eat meat, period’. Daniel and I had begun the conversation about our own meat consumption before the movie, but the pace of our decision making quickened that night. The next day we began our meat-consumption-reduction. So far we have cut out most meat entirely, eating a small amount of chicken or fish (about once a week) and occasionally eating dairy.

I still have a lot to learn and I encourage each of you to dig in with me, if you haven’t already. Let’s continue to educate ourselves so we can be the effective environmentalists we want to be.

A place to start: consider cutting your meat (especially beef) consumption in half. This is a great goal to begin with in this new year!

Our friends at The Hungry Hollow Co-op are offering the coupon below to give readers a discount on produce as we transition towards more plant-centered consumption! Just present your coupon at checkout to receive the discount.

Please share your thoughts and information on this topic. Like all sustainability efforts, it is key that we are in this work together!

 

Until next time,

Ayla

 

1 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ‘Tackling climate change through livestock: a global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities’, 2013 http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3437e.pdf [Accessed 1 December 2018]
2 ‘Forest conversion’, World Wildlife Fund http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/deforestation/deforestation_causes/forest_conversion/ [Accessed 1 December 2018]
3 ‘Deforestation: overview’, World Wildlife Fund https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation [Accessed 1 December 2018]
4 Damian Carrington, ‘Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds’ The Guardian, 30 Oct 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/30/humanity-wiped-out-animals-since-1970-major-report-finds [Accessed 1 December 2018]
5 Jessica Aldred, ‘Agriculture and overuse greater threats to wildlife than climate change – study’, The Guardian, 10 Aug 2016 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/10/agriculture-and-overuse-greater-threats-to-wildlife-than-climate-change-study [Accessed 1 December 2018]