Environmental Impacts of Clothing

April 20, 2021 3 min read

Environmental Impacts of Clothing

When thinking about pollution and waste, many people think of fossil fuels, plastic, or litter. What about clothing waste? Here are some shocking stats you may have not known about the textile and clothing industry.

  • Americans throw away 14 million tons of clothing each year. This has doubled in the last 20 years from 7 million tons. 
  • Textiles can take up to 200+ years to decompose in landfills.
  • 84 percent of clothing ends up in landfills or incinerators.
  • According to the World Resources Institute, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt. 

The environmental impact of clothing is one that is often overlooked, but nevertheless, yet another problem that needs our attention. Here are simple things you can do to reduce your fashion environmental impact. 

Buy Better Quality

Overall, clothing has become quite cheap, so style may be prioritized over quality. Many of us (myself included) purchase clothing that looks good, but will only wear it once or twice before it ends up in the back of the closet for the next few years. Similarly, we may buy a shirt because it's only $5, but after a couple washes it starts to fade, rip, or lose its shape.

Fast Fashion is a buzz phrase in the sustainability world. It refers to cheap but trendy clothing that utilizes low-quality materials in order to bring inexpensive styles to the public. If we stop purchasing poor quality clothing, companies will be forced to improve the quality of their products due to a lack of sales. It will also allow us to keep wearing our clothes for a lot longer, which is better on our wallets and the environment. 

Pay Attention During Laundry Time

Laundry has a huge environmental impact. The average household does almost 400 loads of laundry per year consuming about 60,000 liters of water. Many types of clothing, including those that are made out of synthetic materials, can shed its fibers during the wash. As a result, micro-plastic goes down the drain and pollutes the oceans. Experts say between 700,000 and 12 million microfibers can be shed during a single load of laundry. 

Investing in an efficient washing machine can save energy and up to 30,000 liters of water per year. Opt to wash your clothes with cold water on a faster cycle to reduce the amount of shedded microfibers and energy used during laundry. Use some sort of micro-plastics filter like a laundry bag, laundry ball, or plug in filter to prevent them from entering our waterways. Wash full loads to reduce the number of loads you do overall which saves time, water, energy, and money. 

At Zensah, we take pride on our premium, high quality apparel. Our gear is durable and built to last. We stray away from fast fashion trends, and provide you staple running gear that can last for years! Check out our Earth Day Limited Edition Collection, where we feature nature and animal best selling designs. 

Tackling environmental problems may sound daunting, but little changes can go a long way. Next time you shop, think twice before you buy. Be creative to repurpose products into something new before throwing away. Do your research, and buy quality products from companies who are sustainably conscious. When you really think about it, there are so many things we can do individually and collectively to be more environmentally friendly. 


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