Two days ago, coastal Alabama (where I currently live and was raised), was devastated by Hurricane Sally. It made landfall as a category two hurricane, which normally and historically in my experience aren’t too scary, but this storm was large, and only moving three miles an hour. Hurricanes usually pass over areas quickly, so the worst of a storm will be over in your area in 30 minutes to an hour— but Sally stayed with us for three hours straight before passing slowly North, steadily slamming our trees, towns and homes with sustained winds of 105mph, and the occasional gust of 125mph. My home and shop building both sustained no damages (other than a drain pipe and awning falling off the back of the shop, but that’s fixable), and we regained power at both locations around the 24hr mark. However, most of my friends still have no power, some have lost their homes to flooding, and others have roof and/or window damage. Our historic town hub, Bienville Square (once paved with majestic live oaks and canopies of shade), has been forever changed, with so many of the oaks uprooted, and the sidewalks through the center broken up completely from the risen tree roots.
I have lived through many a hurricane in my life, but the seemingly constant, closeness of the storms in our Gulf (in addition to the state-consuming fires on our West coast and other storms moving in the Atlantic moving towards our East coast), are, to me, an obvious cry for help from our planet. This year, if nothing else, has given us a terrifying glimpse of a new normal we could be seeing in our future. What happens if all of the crazy doesn’t go away when 2020 ends? What if we continue to feel as though Peace has been taken away from our hearts?
I choose to believe that the decisions we make now can make a difference for our future; they can give us a future with this planet, and give our children a future on this planet. There are so many ways to live a more earth-friendly life, but I’m finding that one of the biggest problems people have with taking on more sustainable choices is a lack of knowledge of just how bad their current choices affect the earth. Here, we’ll discuss how our planet takes a brutal hit from the fashion industry alone.
Three Reasons Why Investing in Your Wardrobe is Better for The Earth and Your Wallet:
1. It minimizes extreme pollution and waste in landfills.
The fashion industry has been considered by UNCTAD (UN Conference on Trade and Development) to be the second most polluting industry in the world, though recent research has targeted it being closer to fifth most polluting, behind electricity+heat, road transportation, oil and gas production. It is equal with livestock/agriculture, but THAT’S STILL INSANELY HIGH. Especially for being just one industry. Why is it so high? Because in addition to using copious amounts of water and filling landfills, fashion requires usage of all of the industries mentioned here. By reducing the amount of clothes we buy, we could reduce the usage of the top most polluting industries on our planet. Let that sink in.
A Fashion Revolution article reads, “Shockingly, every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is land filled or burned globally.”
2. You’re throwing your money away, too.
Based on a recent study by ING Direct and Capitol One Banks, “...it appears most women, on average, will spend somewhere between $150 and $400 on clothing on a monthly basis, which equates to approximately $1,800 to $4,800 per year. Two years ago (2018), in the Saturday Evening post, it was already estimated that “the average American throws out about 81 pounds of clothing every year.”
3. Fast Fashion retailers are making clothes that fall apart quickly, and they’re profiting off of the consumer’s need for approval.
A separate study found that fast fashions are constructed so that they typically last no more than 10 wearings. However, this is the one that really gets me: last September, the New York Times released a study that discovered some fast fashion businesses were releasing around 20,000 new pieces a year, encouraging buyers to always shop for “new looks”. “...the number of garments the average person purchased each year also increased by 60 percent. The same study said that when interviewed, 76% of those women said they bought clothes mostly to feel good, if they were having a bad day or needed a pick-me-up. What that means, is that retail therapy is the biggest reason people buy new clothes; they want to feel happier. People are buying more clothes now, because people are more depressed now. Landfills are filling up because people are sad, and people are sad because landfills are filling up. I genuinely believe that the fast fashion industry is profiting off of our fear, and carelessly harming the earth, making us more afraid in the meantime. (Keep following along in the future for a blog post about dopamine, which is released in the clothes buying process, and how it’s addictive. It’s something I care about very much.)
This week, I’ve been incredibly thankful for good friends, showers with hot water, and gas stoves. The way I’ve seen our community come together to help and provide for each other after the storm has been beautiful, and it encourages me that, if people know they’re in danger, they work together to help one another. I think the reason most people aren’t helping yet with sustainability, is because they don’t realize we’re in danger. Let’s take back our happiness and work towards a truly rewarding goal together as good stewards of our home.