Fashion is the best. So it’s too bad the fashion industry is the worst — or second worst, if you wanna get technical.
That’s right. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry on the planet, only after oil and gas. The mammoth environmental cost of manufacturing and shipping clothing, not to mention society’s tendency to treat clothing as disposable, is a threat to our beautiful earth.
Think about it: supplies are grown in one place, shipped somewhere to be manufactured into fabric, shipped somewhere else to be manufactured into garments, and shipped again to be sold. The clothing that doesn’t sell is often destroyed, and even clothing that is sold has an 85 per cent chance of ending up in the trash eventually. And garments are usually made with petroleum-based materials by low-wage earners in the global south. It’s a damn mess.
Witchslapped had the chance to visit a Value Village installation downtown Toronto last month, that aimed to demonstrate the ecological price of fashion. Seattle-based art studio Electric Coffin created little eco-systems out of old clothes. White sheets and towels blew in the wind above people in Yonge-Dundas Square like clouds, while blue fabrics swirled into drainpipes below.
“We’re really focused on educating consumers about what goes into creating their clothing,” Value Village’s communications director Sara Gaugl said. “We recently learned it takes 700 gallons of water to create one cotton t-shirt,” she added.
Value Village is challenging people to save hundreds of gallons of water by making their next t-shirt a thrifted one. They also want shoppers to know they should donate old clothes, towels, and sheets rather than throw them out. Rest assured, even if Value Village can’t sell your donated items — the company will recycle them instead. On its own, VV keeps 650 million pounds of textiles out of landfills every year.
- We consume 80 billion new pieces of clothing a year
- Only about 15 per cent of clothing and textiles are reused or recycled
- Almost 100 per cent of clothing and textiles can be recycled
- It can take up to 700 gallons of water to make a single t-shirt
- It can take 1800 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans
- The average American only drinks 58 gallons of water a year
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