North Americans are said to discard more than 36 kg of clothing every year. (iStock)

Cheap disposable clothing called an environmental nightmare

Share

The average North American buys 60 per cent more clothing than 20 years ago and keeps it for half as long resulting in more than 36 kg of discarded clothing going into landfills every year, says Kelly Drennan. She is the founder and executive director of Fashion Takes Action, a non-profit dedicated to sustainability in the fashion industry.

Clothing production pollutes in many ways

“The textile industry is the second largest polluter of water,” she says. “You have all of these chemicals that are being used, from the pesticides they use to grow our cotton through the chemicals that are used to process and make our fabric to dyeing the fabric and even finishing chemicals are used like formaldehyde which is anti-stain and wrinkle repellent.”

Toxic chemicals are often dumped into the rivers near factories in developing countries and pollute the water that millions use for drinking. When synthetic clothing is washed it releases microfibres that are too small to be caught in water filtration plants. And the fabrics do not degrade.

Cheap clothing is made in developing countries and must be transported great distances to market leaving a large carbon footprint, says Kelly Drennan. (iStock)

More clothing, more carbon

It has become much cheaper to make clothing in developing countries, so there is much carbon pollution involved in transporting them from where they are produced to where they are sold. “The average t-shirt travels about 35,000 km before it lands on our back. That’s about one trip around the world…so that’s a really huge impact,” says Drennan. And there is the energy required to make the clothing. Drennan says for every kilogram of natural fibre apparel produced, four kilograms of carbon dioxide are emitted.

Advice offered to industry, consumers and students

She concludes it is time for the clothing industry to take steps to become more sustainable. Fashion Takes Action has convened a cross sector collaborative to address textile waste diversion and recycling.

Consumers have a major role to play and she recommends the seven Rs. These involve the common advice to reduce, reuse and recycle. But she also advises them to research the brands to find which produce more sustainably. People can also repurpose clothing to give it a second life, learn to repair and rent clothing for important occasions like graduations and weddings.

Fashion Takes Action offers advice for consumers on its website and also goes to schools to raise awareness among children. Says Drennan, “we quite simply have to stop buying as much as we’re buying… We need to choose well, and we need to make it last… it’s time for us to really start to rethink how we’re buying our clothes.”

Kelly Drennan explains the over consumption of clothing and  the pollution it causes.

Listen
(photo: Nanda Santos)
Share
Categories: Environment, International
Tags: , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*