How Slow Fashion Helps Fight Climate Change


Floods, forest fires, and melting ice caps. We’ve all heard of the disastrous effects of global warming at this point. You may have also heard about sustainable fashion, which has skyrocketed in popularity recently. The idea behind sustainable fashion is that a better and more ecologically friendly fashion industry is key towards helping create a more sustainable future, but how exactly does it accomplish this? Today we’re going to look at exactly what sustainable fashion companies, influencers, and advocates are doing to help fight against global warming.

Upcycling and Reuse Make Us Efficient

Probably the biggest thing people think about when they think about sustainable fashion is waste reduction, and for good reason. The Fast Fashion Industry is easily one of the most wasteful on the planet, with the industry producing million tons of waste in 2015 alone, and about 85% of old textiles ending up in landfills or incinerated annually, so it’s not hard to see how reused and upcycled fashion helps fight back against that waste crisis. But what you may not realize is that the waste crisis and climate change are linked. Landfills are huge generators of greenhouse gas emissions, and incinerating waste is obviously just shooting CO2 straight into the air. Furthermore, producing all that clothes in the first place has an enormous carbon footprint, with the fast fashion industry 1.2 billion tons of CO2 a year, which is more than air travel or international shipping. Reusing already produced clothing by thrifting and renting or upcycling factory floor cuttings reduces the need for all that new clothing and therefore slows down the carbon use.

Organic and Sustainable Farming Reduce CO2 Impact

Another big factor in cutting carbon is organic and sustainable farming practices. Nitrogen based fertilizers generate nitrous oxide, a less talked about but equally as problematic greenhouse gas. Furthermore, industrial farming practices often bring carbon out of the soil and into the atmosphere. Organic farming techniques reduce or eliminate the need for synthetic fertilizers, and they are also 26% better on average at retaining carbon in the soil. Speaking about synthetics, much of the fast fashion industry relies on petroleum based plastic clothing, and so switching to the natural textiles found in many slow fashion brands directly reduces fashion’s reliance on fossil fuels. 

Saving Water Is Vital

Finally, using our water supply effectively is essential for fighting climate change. A study in California found that 20% of the state’s electricity use is used just by their water system alone, and that cutting water use had a massive impact on reducing greenhouse gasses. Cotton is a massively water intensive crop, with a single pair jeans needing 1800 gallons of water to produce. The overproduction of cotton in regions like India and Central Asia has devastated the water supply, even drying up the Aral Sea. On the flip side, in order to survive the effects of global warming we need to conserve water. Climate change is making droughts worse overall and upwards to 4 billion people face severe water scarcity at least one month a year. Cotton is a thirsty, thirsty crop but switching to organically grown cotton, eco-friendly textiles like hemp, and reusing or upcycling what we’ve already made will go a long way towards helping fight water overuse. Sustainable fashion brand Reformation estimates that it saves 1,468 gallons of water per pair of jeans, so just imagine how big of an impact it would be if every fashion brand switched to water-saving denim.

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