During the most recent winter break, it was very hard to avoid the deeply harrowing footage of Australia’s battle with fire. People’s lives lost, millions of animals and insects killed, and a staggering amount of land destroyed within a matter of weeks. Now whether this has anything to do with human behavior or not, it is clear that our planet has taken quite a beating in recent times. With almost 8 billion people on the planet, it is up to each and everyone of us to step up and take part in the global clean up needed to turn things around. One area of your life that might surprise you as a top cause for ‘Earthly concern’ are your clothes and shoes. The fashion industry is one of the top culprits believed to be contributing to the many negative changes we are seeing on our planet.
According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) UK households sent 300,000 tonnes of clothing to landfill in 2016. Now not only is that disturbing from a storage point of view, a lot of these clothes are made from materials that won’t bio degrade for decades, leaving the piles of almost ‘disposable’ clothing to build. Because the majority of clothing consists of materials such as nylons and polyesters that contain plastic fibers, our environment pays the price for our waste storage. According to The Guardian, 85% of the human-made material found in the ocean comes from materials, such as nylon and acrylic, used in clothing. It is also believed that of the clothing found in land fills and ultimately the oceans, roughly 30% of that clothing has only been worn once.
But the problem isn’t exclusive to the waste of the clothing itself, the production of clothing also creates a whole host of issues in itself. Clothing garments require a mind-blowing amount of water to produce. According to GreenEcoServices, it takes roughly 2,600 gallons of water to produce 1 pair of jeans and 2,110 gallons of water to produce a pair of leather shoes. Imagine the irony that countries like India and Pakistan are some of the biggest suppliers of cotton to the UK, yet they have some of the worst water shortage issues in their nations. There are also masses of CO2 emissions generated by the quantity travel necessary to take cotton grown in its starting country, to ending up on a shelf in a shop around the world.
It is estimated that over 20 billion pairs of shoes are produced globally each year. Each pair of shoes are usually built up of many different parts, each requiring their own production process. These processes require, water, energy and environmentally harmful materials to function. Laces alone contribute to huge amounts of water consumption, caused by the quantities of water needed to grow the cotton within each lace.
Now this blog post is not supposed to make you feel guilty about your busy wardrobe, or your overflowing shoe rack. But what we hope it does is serve as a little eye-opening experience and an opportunity to help. Instead of just chucking out your old clothes or out-of-fashion shoes, give them to a group who are going to find a new and welcoming home. We exist to find new homes for gently worn sports shoes and equipment, a small step on the way to treating our planet the way it needs to be treated.