By Daisy Wallis
International Climate Change Day is a time for us all to think about how our actions impact the world around us, especially when it comes to our clothes. With retail stores reopening across the world, we’ve put together an essential guide of things to consider when you next hit the shops.
Climate Change… More Like Climate Crisis
According to Condé Nast’s Sustainable Fashion Glossary, the term ‘climate change’ refers to “persistent changes (longer than a decade) in climate caused by either natural causes or human activities.”
With the increased use of fossil fuels and thus higher concentrations of greenhouse gases, the term climate change no longer accurately describes the global situation. Instead, we have hit a climate crisis.
A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the UNEP, states that the fashion industry is responsible for a massive 10% of annual global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping. The report also estimates that if the industry was to continue at this pace, this figure would surge to 50% by 2030. But what is being done to remedy this?
How is the world responding to the climate crisis
The Paris Agreement (2015) was the first truly global commitment to fighting the current climate crisis. It saw 195 countries and the EU sign an agreement to keep global warming to well below 2°C and to aim to limit the increase further to 1.5°C. The agreement paved the way for an essential global conversation about the climate crisis and emphasised the importance of working collaboratively for the good of the planet.
Similarly, The Fashion Industry Charter For Climate Action (2018) looked to launch an initiative to identify the ways in which the industry can move to a greater commitment to climate action. The charter contains a target of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a vision of net-zero emissions by 2050. Participants, including Adidas and Stella McCartney, are required to engage in implementing principles into their own organisations as well as working collaboratively to achieve the target goal.
The environmental effects of the industry were also an important discussion addressed at the first digital London Fashion Week. Positive brands, including, Teatum Jones and Marques’Almeida, presented collections that created something new out of deadstock and leftover fabrics and garments.
What can we do to help the climate crisis?
Whilst the steps world organisations and brands in the industry is imperative to tackling climate change, there are also several steps that we, as the consumer, can take in order to be more mindful of the planet.
1. Do you really need to buy something new?
The first thing to consider when you go shopping is do you actually need anything new? It is estimated that more than half of fast fashion produced is disposed of in under a year.
Every piece of new clothing you buy has an effect on the environment and the planet – so why not consider other sources for your next fashion fix?
Try shopping your own wardrobe instead! This can be a fun activity you do in lockdown, or even with friends. Simply, take an item from your wardrobe and consider new ways to style and dress the item. Use Instagram and our style edits to give that old blazer a new lease of life!
Another option is to shop pre-loved fashion. Vintage stores, charity shops and online sites like Depop, offer a fun and exciting way to buy fashions that are looking for a new home. Our guide to vintage shopping is the perfect start for any fashionista looking to take the plunge into pre-loved fashion.
2. Shop from sustainable brands
When you next need a new top or pair of trainers, why not consider shopping from sustainable brands? As the need for a change in the industry has become more widely acknowledged, new sustainable fashion brands and designers have become more widespread and accessible.
If you don’t know where to start, head over to our style edits. We believe that being sustainable shouldn’t come at the cost of aesthetics. Our style edits are therefore full of great sustainable brands that are making clothes that don’t hurt the planet AND are stylish.
3. Shop locally
The journey our clothes go on from factories to stores to our wardrobes also has an impact on the environment. Buying from brands that make and sell their products locally is, therefore, another great way to be more mindful of the environment.
In these uncertain times, shopping locally is also a great way to support the small businesses that have been rocked financially in these months of lockdown. Check out our guide to supporting small businesses.
4. Upcycle your existing wardrobe
Upcycling can be a sustainable and creative way to reignite some life back into your favourite pieces. YouTube and TikTok tutorials have made it even easier to transform outgrown or broken pieces in your wardrobe in new and exciting ways.
If, like me, you find the concept of upcycling a little daunting, start small. As we get into the summer, why not try transforming your old jeans into a new pair of denim shorts with a quick snip of the scissors. Not only will you have a completely unique piece of fashion to add to your wardrobe, but you can develop a new skill and hobby at the same time!
5. Rehome or Recycle
It is estimated that £140 million of clothing goes to landfill. A shocking statistic that can be changed with a simple consideration to rehome or recycle during your next wardrobe detox.
When you are next detoxing your wardrobe, make sure to think about where your once-loved clothes will end up. For instance, selling your once-loved clothes online has never been easier. Using sites like Depop and eBay will not ensure that your clothes get a new home but can also be a great source of extra income.
Another great option to consider is donating your unwanted clothes to charity shops and clothing banks. Donating clothes is an incredible way to ensure that clothes don’t end up in landfill and to support charities across the world too.
6. Educate yourself on the climate crisis
A great way of tackling the climate change crisis is to get educated on the subject. In this digital age, we are lucky enough to have an immense range of information at the click of a button. Learning more about the climate crisis is essential in understanding the importance of changing the way we consume fashion.
It is essential that in order to reduce global carbon emissions that we work alongside world organisations and fashion brands and be mindful of the environmental impact of our fashion choices. Being sustainable and environmentally conscious doesn’t have to affect our unique sense of styles.