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How to Help the Fashion Industry Go Green

Written by Abby Wilson

Climate change is a hot topic that’s growing hotter by the day (pun intended)—both in politics and in entertainment. Millions march to raise awareness and promote change, and politicians are gung-ho on taxing carbon pollution. Yet, as identified in the recent New York Times piece, Wear Clothes? Then You’re Part of the Problem, no one seems to be pointing their fingers to demand change from one of the world’s biggest polluters: the $2.5 trillion fashion industry.

As the Times’ article suggests, it’s often easy to look away from the apparel industry and cast blame elsewhere. After all, many times clothes are made in far-away lands by people working in unsafe conditions, or even, shamefully, by children—a far cry from our collective privilege and laughable first-world problems. It’s not fun to think about, so we just choose to turn a blind eye.

But we should think about it. It’s more than the commuters of the world that contribute to the carbon crisis. The apparel industry, namely fast fashion, wreaks havoc on our environment every day. Manufacturing just one pair of jeans produces the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving more than 80 miles. And the fashion industry as a whole accounts for eight percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

So if there’s no legal entity truly holding the fashion industry’s feet to the flame when it comes to sustainability, whose responsibility is it? I’d like to think that it’s ours as consumers. We hold the power—the purchase power, that is. Like any business, fast fashion is reliant on sales, so be sure to check out these three easy ways to quit fast fashion.

Maybe someday the United States will follow in France’s footsteps or will more closely mimic the British Parliament’s admirable sustainability initiatives, but until then, it’s up to us to be a part of the solution by being deliberate about what we wear and why.

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