By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.
Fashion is a notoriously dirty industry.
Its labour practices are abominable. And its environmental footprint is atrocious – especially its use of carbon, pesticides, plastics, and water.
As Grist reported in August in A scrappy solution to the fashion industry’s giant waste problem:
Considering the climate when it comes to our clothes is important since more than 60 percent of textile fibers are derived from fossil fuels (petrochemicals). On top of that, The United Nations estimated that the business of what we wear, including its long supply chains, is responsible for 10 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions heating our planet. As an industry, fashion uses up even more energy than aviation and shipping combined.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that individual Americans generated 16 million tons of textile waste. New Yorkers alone throw away 200,000 tons of clothes, linens, shoes, and accessories each year. Only about 15 percent of unwanted apparel ends up being recycled. The remaining 85 percent is burned or added to municipal landfills.
In recent years, the rise of “fast fashion”- cheap, on-trend clothing, generally of poor quality, intended to be worn a couple of times and then discarded – has exacerbated the industry’s environmental impact. Yet consumers have started to worry more about sustainability, and several fashion heavy hitters – luxury brands – have launched the Fashion Pact to address these concerns. Alas, as I wrote in