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We consume our clothes: how clothes are like food

Just as we eat food everyday, we get dressed every day (unless you're a nudist, in which case, more power to you). The consumption choices we make with regard to clothing are just as significant as those pertaining to food, as the raw materials and labor for both food and clothing come from the same sources. Also, we literally eat our synthetic clothing in the form of microbeads shed in the laundry, which make their way to rivers, lakes and oceans. They are consumed by aquatic life, and eventually end up on our own dinner plates.

Investing in natural fiber clothing produced in a sustainable manner are steps in the right direction, but the real challenges surround the ideas of consuming less.

Instead of asking ourselves what to do with so much waste, lets ask how to create less waste.

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We consume our clothes: how clothes are like food

  1. 1. We consume our clothes: how clothes are like food
  2. 2. DAILY activities have a cumulative effect Sleep Eat Dress
  3. 3. Daily choices about consumption are made under constant social pressure.
  4. 4. CONSTANT. PRESSURE. Gentlemen, you’re hardly exempt.
  5. 5. Considering food, we learned to IGNORE EXTERNAL SOCIAL PRESSURE, and DEMAND DETAILS ABOUT THE VALUE CHAIN: Harvested responsibly?How? Humanely?Grown where? Locally?
  6. 6. Questions about FOOD = Questions about TEXTILES Where? How? Harvest conditions? Raw materials and labor come from the SAME SOURCES organic cotton growers in India
  7. 7. Processing Practices? Production conditions? Business Practices? Questions about FOOD = Questions about TEXTILES The EPA estimates just ONE cotton t-shirt requires 700 gallons of water during manufacture.
  8. 8. Repurpose? Recycle? Waste? Questions about FOOD = Questions about TEXTILES EPA estimates 13.1 million tons of textiles are trashed yearly; only 2 million tons are recovered for reuse or recycling.
  9. 9. Fibers derived from naturally occurring and sustainable earthly cycles with which we can partner. Petro-chemically derived atoms artificially formed into polymer plastic fibers. No natural cycle with which to partner. Growth cycle questions DO NOT APPLY TO SYNTHETICS NATURAL FIBERS SYNTHETICS O – oxygen N – nitrogen H – hydrogen C – carbon from: OIL COAL GAS
  10. 10. Polyester Nylon AcrylicHemp Wool Silk NATURAL FIBERS SYNTHETICS PET plastic Cotton
  11. 11. Synthetics inexpensive stay lightweight in the wet easy care Compelling for several reasons:
  12. 12. BUT -- Synthetics arrive & persist toxic & bio-accumulative consumed by animals + people shed MICROBEADS in the laundry UNESCO estimates there are 245 metric tons of plastic particles shed from fleece fabric per year globally
  13. 13. Fibers derived from naturally occurring and sustainable earthly cycles with which we can partner. Petro-chemically derived atoms artificially formed into polymer plastic fibers. No natural cycle with which to partner. REMEMBER: Growth cycle questions DO NOT APPLY TO SYNTHETICS NATURAL FIBERS SYNTHETICS O – oxygen N – nitrogen H – hydrogen C – carbon from: OIL COAL GAS
  14. 14. As with food, we can IGNORE EXTERNAL SOCIAL PRESSURE and DEMAND DETAILS ABOUT THE VALUE CHAIN of textile products.
  15. 15. Some comparatively responsible clothing brands:
  16. 16. +But the more fundamental questions/challenges are around buying LESS. +Purchasing more responsibly produced items made of natural materials are steps towards mainstreaming sustainable textiles and garments. +Instead of asking ourselves what to do with so much waste, let’s ask how to create less waste.

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