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Five Ways Fashion Affects the Earth – And What You Can Do About It

Five Ways Fashion Affects the Earth – And What You Can Do About It

Earth Day is approaching, and on 22nd April this year, there is a lot to think about and reflect on when it comes to the state of our Earth. The planet is in dire crisis due to humans: melting glaciers, extreme weather, droughts, rising sea levels and more is a grim testament to the strain our activity is putting on the environment and harming other living being with whom we share this Earth. And fashion plays no small part in the climate crisis: from taking up a lot of the world's water to emitting alarming levels of greenhouse gases, it's safe to say that clothing is an environmental villain. And we do all wear clothes – so it's the duty of each of us to do our best to ensure that our clothing does the least possible amount of harm to the planet. This Earth Day, learn more about how fashion affects the environment, and how you can make kinder choices when it comes to style.

Greenhouse gas emissions. According to the UN, the fashion industry is responsible for up to 10% of all human-made emissions of harmful greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane, more than shipping and aviation combined. If we keep up our current pace, that number is set to hit 50% by 2030. The clothing industry emits greenhouse gases throughout production – including the various stages of transforming the raw materials, the running of the factories, and transport – but a significant factor when it comes to fashion's emissions issue is textile waste. Every year, the world produces approximately 92 million tonnes of textile waste. Left in landfill, this clothing continues to leach toxic substances into the environment and emit greenhouse gases, often taking centuries to decompose.

What you can do: Be mindful of waste. Every time you buy something, buy to last. Keep in mind that the item must live in your wardrobe for years, so choose well and make sure you won't discard your new purchase within a couple of seasons. If you truly must part ways with something and it is still in good condition, donate it to charity or sell it on a second-hand fashion marketplace. If you must discard it, do so at a textile recycling station.


Deforestation. The production of fashion contributes to trees being cut down and lush, green areas being wiped out. Animal leather specifically has been found to have a strong connection to deforestation: it is estimated that approximately 80% of deforestation rates in the Amazon rainforest are tied to cattle ranching. This is a massive blow to biodiversity, as the Amazon is home to over 3 million species. Cattle ranching isn't just about raising cows for meat – the leather industry is also part of animal agriculture, and the environmental cost of clearing land to grow feed for cows, house factory farms and slaughterhouses, and transform the hides into leather is astronomically high.

What you can do: Shop leather-free. In today's vibrant vegan fashion climate, no one needs to wear leather. Explore the growing variety of leather options made from pineapples, mushrooms, cactus, apples, grapes and more, including our very own plant leather designs here at A Perfect Jane.

Water use. Fashion is extremely thirsty. Clothing production is estimated to use 93 billion cubic metres of water per year – enough to meet the water needs of five million people. From growing the raw materials to harvesting the fibres to dyeing and preserving, water is used in many stages of the process. As we know, water is a finite resource. The amount of fresh water available to humans really isn't that vast, and we must be mindful of our consumption.

What you can do: Buy less. At the core of these crises are the huge quantities of things we produce, consume and toss away. Slim down your shopping and be mindful of impulse purchases.


Eutrophication. This is a lesser-known environmental problem that is, however, very impactful. Eutrophication refers to the process where runoff waste from production causes overgrowth of certain plants in waterways. This depletes the water of oxygen and effectively suffocates marine life, creating so-called “dead zones”. Factory farms are often behind this runoff, with leather and wool being significant contributors to this pollution of waterways, which can also lead to tainted

drinking water. What you can do: Don't wear animal skins. Animal farming contributes to eutrophication through the excess nutrients from the animals' waste, alongside the fertilisers used in farming. This is just one of many factors that make animal agriculture so damaging to the environment. Today's durable plant leathers are kinder to the planet than animal skins, making this choice so much easier.


Loss of biodiversity. One million of all species on Earth are currently threatened with extinction – a devastating statistic. It may come as news to many fashion consumers that the industry is a contributor to this crisis, but looking into the production of some of the most commonly used fabrics, the connection is clear. Cotton, one of the most popular materials in fashion, can cause soil degradation, while cashmere is a big cause of desertification through the many goats' excessive grazing. By wearing animals, we are wiping out other animals.

What you can do: Choose slow fashion. Overproduction and vast use of resources are threats to biodiversity, but opting to shop from brands that don't rush to constantly produce new collections helps halt the cycle.


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