How much can you reduce your carbon emissions by switching to sustainable clothing?

In recent years, a widespread movement to raise awareness about the fashion industry's impact on carbon emissions has gained traction all around the globe. And as a consumer, you are able to contribute to the cause. How? By way of reducing your carbon impact and choosing sustainable fashion instead of fast fashion. Buying clothes made from natural fabrics and renewable materials can significantly contribute to the goal. In fact, turning to ethical fashion is vital for reducing the overall carbon and water impact that the fashion industry inflicts on the environment. That is why it is helpful to know how much you can reduce carbon emissions by switching to sustainable clothing. 

Why switching to sustainable clothing is so important for reducing carbon emissions ?

Unfortunately, the fashion industry’s negative environmental impact has surpassed the carbon impact of maritime shipping and flying combined. Global greenhouse-gas emissions are threatening our planet as we speak. Consider this - we emit billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide on a yearly basis. In fact, some estimates note that we would need 175% of the Earth’s current energy potential to sustain current levels of energy consumption.

 Before we crunch the numbers, it is useful to demystify the oft-used term ‘carbon footprint’. Carbon footprint is actually a measure of the total amount of greenhouse gases that human industries and other activities generate. In other words, the greenhouse effect that heats up the planet happens because we release massive amounts of CO2 and other carbon compounds into the oceans and atmosphere. 

two women shopping for sustainable clothing

Caption:You can reduce the negative environmental impacts by buying clothes from Indian homegrown brands.

To make it easier to visualize this, know that 1 tonne of CO2 is created when you drive 3.700 miles in a diesel car and charge your smartphone 120,000 times or on a single return flight from New York to Paris. And as we mentioned, we produce billions of tonnes of CO2 annually. Turning to ethical fashion, eco-friendly products, and upcycled or recycled clothing is a small sacrifice.

How can my purchasing habits reduce carbon emissions?

Just think about it. How many clothes do you have lying around without wearing more than a couple of times? It is perfectly normal to attach to your belongings, but as with everything, moderation is key. It is much better to purchase clothes made from resilient, organic fabrics as they will last much longer than fast fashion. 

t-shirts on bamboo eco-friendly clothes hangers

Caption: Buy less, buy smart. 

The same applies to other areas of your daily life. Making sustainable choices in every segment of your life will go toward creating a responsible, environmentally friendly outlook on life. One garment at a time will reduce the environmental impact you make on a yearly basis.

So, the goal is to turn to biodegradable, plastic-free, and eco-friendly solutions. For instance, if you need to rent storage space, do your best to locate an environmentally conscious storage unit provider. Going green in your storage unit and your effort to make it more eco-friendly will reduce your carbon footprint and inspire others around you to do the same. This kind of sustainable development is essentially the easiest way you can make a change as an individual.

How much can you decrease your carbon emissions?

In most cases, renting or buying upcycled or second-hand clothing is best. However, some pieces of clothing simply have to be new. But even then, you should think sustainably. So, going green can be as simple as buying sustainable clothes such as organic cotton underwear.

How much does sustainable underwear decrease carbon emissions?

For instance, underwear that is cheap but made of unsustainable materials such as polyamide and cotton produces 0.6kg of CO2. And that is just in the process of manufacturing. Add to that the CO2 emissions of transportation, and you already have a lofty 1kg for just one pair of underwear. 

As you might go through as many as 20 pairs of underwear every year, even something as simple as underwear generates extortionate levels of CO2!  In other words, just buying underwear made 100% sustainably will reduce your carbon footprint by 7.2kg annually. 

cotton underwear on a clothesline

Caption: Air dry your sustainable undergarments to reduce your carbon footprint even more.

How much do sustainable socks reduce carbon emissions?

Sustainable clothes made of organic cotton or Tencel generate up to 80% less CO2. Hence, it makes sense to start your carbon reduction by switching to eco-friendly products you buy frequently.

As we mentioned, an average person changes about a dozen pairs of underwear annually. The same goes for socks. Depending on the material and thickness, your socks can produce their fair share of CO2. So, socks made from synthetic materials have around 2kg CO2 during manufacture. Considering manufacturing accounts for only half of the garment’s lifecycle, over time, this can raise a lot of energy consumption. So, if you buy 10 pairs of socks annually, you are again releasing at least 40kg of CO2 yearly!

On the other hand, estimates show that sustainable production of clothes halves the entire carbon footprint of the garment by almost 50%. Again, this is only approximate, but instead of releasing 40kg of CO2 because of your yearly supply of socks, you can make a difference and cut it down to 20kg by switching to organic cotton, Tencel, or recycled polyester instead. This kind of solutions are inspired by the idea of having a plastic free nature, so be sure to support brands that use these materials.

How much CO2 can your T-shirts and dresses save?

As for the big pieces of clothing, considering they can be much more challenging to make, your polyester T-shirt releases up to 5kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. A cotton one, on the other hand, emits only 2.5kg.

Picture this. The yearly polyester supply requires 200 million barrels of oil to satisfy demand. Additionally, polyester takes 200 years to break down if the planet lives to see this happen. Furthermore, any garment mixture of natural and synthetic materials cannot be recycled, whereas a purely cotton one can. In that sense, a dress made of 50% nylon and 50% cotton is just as unsustainable as 100% polyester. 

For this reason, it is crucial that people acknowledge just how important it is to reduce carbon emissions their environmental impact. By turning to slow fashion and sustainable clothing, that is, by purchasing clothes made by sustainable fashion brands, you can contribute to the cause. Even something as simple as buying sustainable basics can have a huge impact on your personal carbon footprint. And remember - even a small step for you is a big step for mankind.

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