We think of our clothes as disposable. They are not.
Textile waste (and post-consumer textile waste) in the fashion industry is an enormous problem. It's clogging our landfills and harming our environment. According to the EPA, the average American throws out about 70 pounds of unwanted clothing, shoes, and other textiles per year. That accounts for an estimated 28.6 billion pounds or more than 5% of the total waste we generate. About 15% of fabric intended for clothing ends up on the cutting-room floor. Up to 95% of all this textile waste could be reused or recycled — but sadly, it's not.
We believe cotton is a natural and healthy fiber. We need to look closer.
Conventionally grown cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed plants in farming. Less than 3% of the world’s agriculture is cotton, but it uses almost 10% of the carcinogenic pesticides and up to 20% of the most toxic insecticides. Our skin is our biggest organ, and we can wind up absorbing those chemicals when we wear those clothes. And, 90% of conventionally grown cotton is genetically modified. We do not know the full impact of these GMOs. In fact, 60% of a cotton plant goes back into the food stream, which means we are literally eating it. If you are worried about GMOs in your food, you should be worried about them in your clothes.
It takes a lot of energy to manufacture and sell clothing around the world.
The global clothing and apparel industry is a $577 billion industry and accounts for 10% of the global carbon footprint. More than one trillion kilowatt hours are used every year by the textile industry. Most of the companies using these resources are not giving back to the earth by investing in energy-saving technologies or paying to offset the energy that they can’t reduce.
Bamboo is not a sustainable fiber — though it is sold as one.
Bamboo can be a sustainable source for flooring; however, enormous amounts of chemicals are needed to break down the bamboo bask fiber to turn the plant into a fabric. This happens to such a degree that there is very little trace of bamboo left in the textile.
It takes a tremendous amount of water to manufacture clothing and textiles.
Fashion is the second largest user of water after agriculture. It takes more than 700 gallons of fresh water to make one cotton T-shirt. To put that in perspective — a typical bath takes 70 gallons of water. The textile industry is responsible for producing 2.5 billion tons of wastewater per year, and 20% of industrial fresh water pollution comes from textile treatment and dying. In China, you can tell the color of the season by looking at the color of the rivers next to the garment factory.
We forget that clothes are still made by hand — even though these people are largely invisible to us.
With the clear intent to decrease costs, many fashion brands have sent production over seas. In these countries, there is often no meaningful protection for the workers, who have reported being exploited, beaten, and threatened to comply under often horrific working conditions. Last year, 1,127 people died — the majority of them women — when Rana Plaza, a garment factory in Bangladesh, collapsed. Warned of the unsafe building conditions, the factory managers ignored the signs and forced their workers to keep slaving away. These women and men paid with their lives.
We don’t make clothes in the U.S. anymore.
The clothing and apparel industry is a $339 billion market in the U.S. and only 2% of those consumer goods are manufactured in the U.S. We need to start buying locally.