It’s probably the most used quote in the sustainable clothing movement in the past few years. 'Fashion is the second most polluting industry there is', followed by a claim that only oil is worse as an industry.
It’s easy to understand, catchy and dooming. Great slogan you might think. There’s only one problem with it ... it’s not true.
Wait, what do you mean it’s not true? It’s been quoted in documentary’s, countless articles and during panels at events! Yes, that part is true, but as one of my favourite artists' Flume puts it in his Numb and getting colder: 'Saying the same things twice won’t make it right'. Just because I convince people I’m a good dancer by writing it on my Facebook and telling everyone about it doesn’t make it true (yup, I’m still a terrible dancer).
In this era where fake news is dominating the internet, it is important to find and speak the truth. By putting fake facts out, we are undermining the real impact that the movement is making.
But where did it come from? There are some people who point to a random panel that was talking on sustainability in fashion during the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, but no one seems to be able to substantiate the claim.
So how polluting is it really?
Well Erik, if it’s not the second most polluting, which place does the industry get on this infamous ranking? That’s a tough question to answer ...
First of all ‘pollution’ is a difficult term because it involved a spectrum of things. Water pollution, CO2 emissions, airborne chemicals; they all play a part in pollution, but since they are different, it’s not easy to compare them to one another. Some people might argue that CO2 emissions are worse than chemicals in waterways, but how do you objectively look at that comparison? You can’t. Hack we can even put the countless tasteless marketing campaigns of brands under pollution, but that once again is subjective ;).
Another problem is that the scope of the environmental impact of fashion is insanely big. Agriculture, shipping and manufacturing are all part of fashion, so it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact impact of that. For example, you know the CO2 emissions of a ship, but do you also include the emissions released during the making process of that ship and the making process of the tools that were used to make that ship etc. etc. It’s a spiral of pollution that seems to have no end. Yeah, that’s some inception stuff right there.
Both of these problems make it hard to pinpoint the exact impact. There’s no doubt that the industry is highly polluting and that it needs solving, but throwing random quotes out will only discredit the real efforts. So let’s just stick to facts that we do know and work from there. I’ve listed some of them down here:
- Almost half of our clothing produced is burned or ends up in a landfill within a year.
- About 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions are emitted by the fashion industry.
- Polyester clothing has the biggest carbon footprint, hemp the smallest.
- Dolphins can remember their friends after 20 years of separation! Gotta have a dolphin fact in from now and then.
Alright, that was it for this week. Enjoy your weekend friends and we’ll see you next Friday!