The Sustainable Fashion Movement is how the clothes that we wear are impacting the environment and climate because of the way garments are produced and disposed.
Sustainability’s aim is reducing the carbon footprint through the four stages of a garment’s lifecycle: the production of the garment, the distribution and sale, the use, and finally, the disposal or “end of life.” The use of water, non-renewable energy, agricultural land occupation, carbon footprint, freshwater toxicity, eutrophication (ex. algae overgrowth due to runoff), toxicity in humans, air pollution and acidification are all considered.
The world currently produces 100 billion new pieces of clothing each year, mainly from virgin sources. The fashion industry is responsible for 8% of global climate pollution. If the garment business were a nation, it would be the 4th largest climate polluter on earth.
- As of 2014, Americans buy 5 times more clothing than they did in 1980.
- 40% more textiles were thrown away by Americans from 1999-2009.
- In 1999, 18.2 billion pounds of textiles were trashed.
Textile waste does not rapidly degrade in landfills. Natural fabrics are nearly as problematic as synthetics, such as acrylic, nylon and polyester. Denim is especially problematic because of the natural resources used in the production of the cotton, as well as the many chemicals used to dye the fabric and create the finishes, such as “dark wash” or “stone washed.” Levi’s found that making one pair of 501’s required 920 gallons of water, the equivalent of running a garden hose for 106 minutes.
- The average U.S. consumer buys 4 pairs of denim jeans a year, totaling 450 million pair a year.
- 70% of waterways in Pakistan and India are polluted with artificial dyes from denim production.
- 90% of China’s local ground water is polluted with textile processing chemicals.
- The Citarum River (aka “The Blue River”) is the world’s most polluted river due to over 200 textile factories using it as a dumping ground. Those factories use over 8000 chemicals.
Solid waste from textiles is also major problem:
- The EPA estimated in 2015 that textile waste accounted for 7.6% of all solid waste in municipal landfills.
- The EPA reported 84% of unwanted garments made their way to landfills and incinerators, rather than re-use and recycling.
- Clothing, denim included, can take up to 200 years to degrade in a landfill.
Now that we are aware of the problem, lets look at solutions
It is out of concern about this vast and growing global problem that the Sustainable Fashion Movement was born. Made up of both the industry’s producers ( designers, manufacturers, and retailers), and consumers ( you, me, and the rest of us) the S. F. Movement is working to implement new ways of producing, buying, using, and disposing of clothing and textiles. Industry leaders have been working on new innovations, but until these and future technologies become widespread and affordable, the best way for consumers to reduce their negative impact on the environment is to BUY USED, USE LONGER, DONATE, RECYCLE.
You may be asking yourself “What can I do to make a difference in my local community?” Actually, quite a lot! Just by sheer numbers, if we take this information and make changes to our consumer habits, we can make a remarkable difference. How? BUY USED. USE LONGER. DONATE. RECYCLE.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to commit to buying used, donating and recycling at your local D.A.V. Thrift Stores. The D.A.V. Thrift Stores carry every type of item that people use, and because all of their merchandise is donated, the prices are low. These stores can be your best Sustainable Fashion partner because a large percentage of the donations are apparel- clothing, shoes and accessories. Every style is represented, and all these fashion items are awaiting their second, sustainable life. An easy way to get started buying sustainable is to commit to only buying used denim jeans for yourself and your family. The average U.S. consumer buys 4 pairs per year- why not make at least one of them used? Help save the environment while saving money too!
D.A.V. Thrift Stores are the ultimate rec
The Disabled American Veterans Thrift Stores are the ultimate Hampton Roads recyclers. Why? Because their 8 area stores employ staff to sort the donations into items suitable for sale in their stores, and other items that are more suitable for recycling. The “recycles” are then sent to professional recycling companies for further processing. This method keeps textiles, purses, shoes, books, and metals out of incinerators and landfills. Also, the D.A.V. makes it easy for citizens to donate by dropping off unwanted items directly at their stores, or, to put them into conveniently located donation boxes. You can easily schedule residential pick-ups by phone or on-line. This professional system makes it more likely that family discards end up in the best place possible, rather than just being thrown away and becoming more waste and hazardous pollution affecting our quality of life in Hampton Roads. The D.A.V. Thrift Stores incorporate these much needed environmental efforts while also employing people and contributing towards a worthy charitable cause. Definitely a win-win for everyone.
As the “Ultimate Recycler” their stores and system for donation and recycle services make them the “Solution for Pollution” in Hampton Roads. Recycles exceeded 2.5 million pounds, all thanks to you and our local communities.
So…WOW! That was a lot of information. What is the take-a-way?
Sustainable Fashion is a multi-faceted global environmental and societal issue involving millions of people and millions of businesses, billions of dollars and billions of pounds of waste needing disposal. There are no easy answers or quick solutions. Something needs to be done and serious action is needed NOW. Get involved. Take action. Remember: BUY USED. USE LONGER. DONATE. RECYCLE. Make the D.A.V. Thrift Stores your Sustainable Fashion partner. And consider the following “ Action Steps.”
Action steps toward sustainable fashion
THINK: “USED” before “NEW"
ACTION: Commit to thrifting at the D.A.V. Thrift Stores
BONUS: Save money while donating to a worthy cause and helping the environment.
THINK: “Start sustainable with DENIM”ACTION: Buy at least one pair of jeans at the D.A.V. Thrift Store
BONUS: Be fashionable and comfortable wearing broken-in jeans.
THINK: “DONATION is the ULTIMATE in RECYCLING.”
ACTION: Fill a bag, drop it by a D.A.V. Thrift store, in a donation box, or schedule a pick-up.
BONUS: LESS WASTE! Also, when items are resold, they have less unnecessary packaging.
THINK: “What can I do NOW to make a difference.
ACTION: NOW IMAGINE MORE doing more NOW.
BONUS: Be part of the solution.
Do you have items to donate? We will pick them up!