Climate change and fashion: How to reduce your fashion carbon footprint

The fashion industry has a significant impact on the environment. Fast fashion brands produce enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and waste every year. 

The McKinsey Fashion on Climate report found that in 2018 alone, the industry produced a whopping 2.1 billion tonnes of GHG emissions. Almost 70% of the fashion industry’s emissions stem from the production, preparation, and processing of materials. The rest lies with the use phase and how the garments are eventually disposed of. 

There is a lot to consider when looking at the fashion industry’s impact on the environment. While you may not be able to alter how a brand produces its clothing – you can adjust how you shop for fashion. Here are a few ways you can make your shopping habits more sustainable and eco-friendlier.

Buy less clothing

As Patagonia’s chief product officer, Lisa Williams, once said: “The most environmentally sustainable jacket is the one that’s already in your closet.” 

Even with recycled materials and an improved production process, a new garment will still leave a level of environmental impact. The less you shop, the smaller this environmental impact will be. Try to invest in high-quality products that will withstand the test of time and remain in style for years to come. You can feel fabulous in them and find styles that flatter and compliment your body shape throughout the years. If you buy clothes to make you happy, it might be time to find a new and more sustainable coping strategy. The environment and your bank account will thank you later!

Buy second hand

You could rent clothing for one-off occasions, like a birthday party or wedding. You can still enjoy the thrill of shopping for some new floral trousers– without the massive environmental impact. Win, win!

Or head to your local charity shop and enjoy an afternoon browsing through their collection to find some hidden treasure. You can trade clothing with your friends, shop second hand or rent garments. 

Buy clothing from sustainable brands

Fashion brands are making environmental pledges left, right and centre. Make sure to read these pledges and examine which brands are approaching sustainability seriously and effectively. Unfortunately, the most sustainable brands tend to be in the premium range and can be quite a big investment to make. However, if you are shopping less often, you may have more money to spend on one or two premium items than five or six fast fashion pieces.

Buy better quality

Poor quality clothing is affordable at the time but can cause you a headache down the line. Sustainable fashion also includes how you dispose of your old clothing. Try to invest in better quality pieces so that you’re not constantly throwing clothes away.

There are multiple services available to help you make more sustainable shopping choices in the future.

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