Some of you may know that I graduated in Masters of Sustainable Systems Engineering last year. So what do I know now? That there is abundant solar energy which can solve any energy problem, in most of the countries. That using regional and bio items, is the way to go and that vegan diet is now a trend.
What do most of these things have in common? They go hand-in-hand with sustainability. I will not repeat the definition which we now know by heart till now. 😀 But has anyone wondered, how a common person like you and me can contribute to it? We all have bits & pieces of information like use renewables, travel by public transport and prefer biking, use less heating and so on.
But more than this, I want to bring to your notice that the clothes we wear everyday also has a big impact. I came to know this last year when I was performing LCA studies. Clothes are worn everyday, everytime (“normal” wearing circumstances ;-)) and need as much attention as any other product & service being tested for carbon footprint. I started reading more on this, watching videos and documentaries. Fashion has been close to my heart and I realised maybe I could combine this love with saving the planet. What I understood is that life cycle assessment could be used to carefully track all the processes involved in a product/service lifetime, which would help us point out the hot spots or where the environmental impact is the highest. So here is what I found:
- Sustainable fibres/ leather: We all know how the leather industry is criticized for its cruelty to animals & the tanning process. But there are materials like down or cashmere which are equally sought after for their warmth and lightweight, that also poses the same question. My viewpoint regarding this, either procure these materials from dead animals or as byproduct from food industry. I am sure this will lead to another topic entirely about being veganism and all. But let’s leave it for another post. Most effective will be to use fibres that are less energy intensive with almost no chemical usage, sourced ethically. For more details, head over to this cool website I found.
- Shorten the distance: If we reduce the distances between the production fields, warehouses to retail shops, we cut down the emissions caused due to transportation like air or ships. Most of the fast fashion is due to cheap labour from Asia, fibre fields from another country and the retail stores in Europe. So you can imagine all the transport & effort required to sell your shirt in a store in Paris or Berlin. But is it really that easy? Nope. My thoughts on this are we can definitely source regional fibres and remanufacture from old clothing. I also agree with the authors that relocation of staff close to production, is a good option .
- Behavioral practices: In spite of all technological innovations and regulations, we humans need to change ourselves. I am personally an advocate for second hand clothing or hand-made clothing. I agree I have been lured by fast fashion at low prices, but there is always an awakening, which I hope is for you as well. What I mean here, it is okay if you purchase that once luxury bag, which you have been dreaming about since you got your first paycheck, but what makes it bad if you keep buying items based of seasonal fashion or “just because”. Not only will this create waste after you are done with it after the season is over, but also it is just plain unnecessary. In this regard, I can say that we can still find good pieces in thrift stores, & promote local fashion. In fact, nowadays there are rental stores, which is better for those events where you want to flaunt latest fashion. You will save on material costs and associated emissions. Additionally, if you want to go that extra mile, you can adopt capsule wardrobe. This is basically wearing set of clothing & accessories which can be adjusted to any occasion since they are mostly made up of classic pieces or colours.
- Circular fashion: As the name suggests, waste is produced less, material usage is minimized and the life is prolonged with repairs. In short, you keep using the clothes you have till they start tearing, then you can patch them up for further usage or use them differently like cleaning cloths at home. With irreversible damage, you can send them to reprocessing units,for shredding and remanufacturing into new thread. Ofcourse, it all comes down to how much energy intensive this process is compared to conventional manufacturing. But the waste generated will be much less & new fibres required will be definitely reduced.
- Green energy: Lastly, as much possible, make the processes run with renewable energies to reduce the carbon footprint. Be it in a manufacturing plant or a retail store.
For sure, there are other methods, but these are my personal favourites. Also they are my personal musings. 😀
What do you think? Share you thoughts in the comment section below. 🙂