Friday, August 8, 2008

Project Wrongway

Red combines moving through a white field of cotton, leaving brown stripes behind
The September issue of Discover just arrived, revealing these facts about clothing and fabrics in a brief article about eco-chic fashion:

  • "Americans discard 8,640,000 tons of clothing and footwear in 2006, according to EPA estimates of municipal solid waste generation -- a quantity that has more than doubled since 1990." (That number is a bit hard to believe.... if I did the math right, it's close to 58 pounds for every man, woman and child in the U.S. I didn't think the fashion industry was that successful!) And that's not counting the clothes we donate or sell, which is probably a pretty substantial amount.
  • Cotton requires 1,000 gallons of water per pound, a pound of oil per pound, and 500 pounds of pesticide per square mile. The wool from sheep require fewer inputs, but they produce methane, of course, and can cause soil erosion from grazing.
  • "Polyester, made from petroleum, may have the smallest impact on climate," according to Christopher Goodall, author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life. They quote Goodall again: "When you make a piece of plastic that lasts, in effect, forever, you are taking hydrocarbons and sequestering them in an essentially indestructible piece of textile."
Which would make a lot of sense if people didn't throw it in a landfill, but rather sold it or donated it so someone else could sell it. Or reused it to make other clothing.

And I guess it assumes that someone actually makes attractive polyester these days.

No comments: