In 2015, we were surprised to learn (and you might too) that the fashion industry is “the second largest polluter in the world”. This had Mini-Cycle thinking about the impact clothes have on the environment and how moving towards a circular economy could benefit you as a consumer! Here are 3 reasons why you should start reusing your children’s clothes as soon as possible.
LIMITED RESOURCES FOR UNLIMITED WANTS
To produce 1 kilogram of cotton, we need more than 10,000 liters of water …Crazy, right? That makes cotton one of the most water-intensive crops on the planet... Why is this important? Our fresh water supplies are limited. Only 2% of earth's water is adequate for human consumption. The water for cotton production cannot be used for anything else because it has either evaporated or is too contaminated for reuse. Just imagine all the water we could save simply by reusing our clothes 3-4 times (mathematically that would be 3-4 times less water needed and available for human consumption or to grow food).
Pollution is a major aspect of producing garments. For 1 kilogram of cotton about 302 grams of pesticides are required. The use of pesticides has been detrimental to local people's livelihood as it leaches into their aquifer and pollutes all of their surrounding environment. Pesticides also deplete soils from their nutrients, which in turn make them unusable in the long term for any crop growing.
Synthetic textiles, are also a main culprit as they are composed of petroleum molecules. As we all know, their extraction and use represent a considerable carbon footprint. Also, the synthetic textiles' molecules are non-biodegradable. It has been studied that synthetic garments are the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the oceans. When we wash our garment, it has been estimated that 1900 fibres can be washed off one synthetic garment every time it goes through a cleaning cycle - ending up in our oceans. To top it up, approximately 85% of human-made debris found on the shore-line studied are made of microfibers and are directly linked to the type of fabric found in nylon and acrylic.
As Jérôme Frignet, at Greenpeace points out, we also need to consider the end of life of our clothes: "burned or buried (the clothes we consume) also lead to the release of pollutants in the ecosystem".
By reusing our clothes and increasing the life span of each piece of clothing, we can limit pollution in so many ways!
Did you know that consumers are currently buying 2 times more clothes than they did 15 years ago, and get rid of them 2 times faster? What’s even more shocking is that, in Europe, for instance, about 2 million garments are discarded every year, and 90% go to waste (so they will not be re-used)… Closer to home, RECYC-Quebec announced in 2016 that each person throws 24 kilograms of clothing a year. If each and everyone of us start reusing, we can build a trend around closing the loop in this very wasteful industry.
As consumers, we need to be aware of what goes into the making of the clothes we wear, because they have a tremendous impact on the environment. It is crucial to revisit our current lifestyle habits to lead by example. There are many ways you can do so. The most obvious is to buy preloved only.
Stay tuned this month to learn more about ways for you and your kids to join the circular economy.