How to dress without destroying the climate and the environment? Polluting crops, energy-intensive factories, mountains of discarded clothes… Less present than air travel in the debate on global warming, the textile industry nevertheless accumulates as many greenhouse gas emissions as air transport and represents between 2% and 4% of total global emissions – not to mention its other impacts on the environment and biodiversity.
More than 100 billion pieces of clothing are sold every year in the world, i.e., in France, 10 kilos of clothes per person and per year: this episode of the “Human heat” podcast, broadcast on the website of the World on October 4, gives the floor to the entrepreneur Julia Faure. Co-founder of the clothing brand Loom, she participates in the collective En mode climat, a movement of companies in the sector that wants to massively reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fashion. She has a simple speech when it comes to clothing: “Buy as little as possible”
What emits greenhouse gases in the textile industry? Where does the problem come from ?
In fashion, individually, each piece of clothing pollutes relatively little, because it takes relatively little energy to produce a T-shirt, relatively few pesticides to grow the 200 grams of cotton that will make this T-shirt and relatively few chemicals to dye a T-shirt. It has nothing to do, for example, with what it takes to produce an iPhone. The real problem of fashion lies in the quantities: we produce a lot of clothes. To give you an idea, in France alone, 2.5 billion pieces of clothing are put on the market every year. This is more than the sales of boxes of six eggs. Currently, in our world, we consume clothes as if they were eggs. We break them, we make an omelet and then we buy more.
This brings us back to “fast fashion”, to brands that produce massively in low-cost countries, but in this process, what is polluting? The way to produce? The energy used? Transportation ?
In the carbon impact of textiles, the share of transport is quite low, around 2%, for the same reason that the individual carbon weight of a garment is quite low. A T-shirt is very light, it takes up very little space, container transport is very optimized. One might think that it is the raw materials that emit a lot of greenhouse gases: cotton, polyester. But, ultimately, it does not represent more than 30% of the carbon weight of a garment.
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