Clothing Habits and the Environmental Epidemic

Fashion has been sporting new looks for centuries and people can’t seem to buy enough clothing every year. In fact, there’s fashion for every sport, event and not to mention… even the rugged, dressed down trendy fashions, like expensive holey clothing such as jeans and t-shirts. Who would have imagined that people are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on clothing with holes? Americans have outfits for every basic sport… such as baseball, football and hockey, including board sports (skating, snowboarding) and newer random sports like Arena Ball, Gladiator, Floor Pong, Lawn Bowling and Wii games. Everyone wants to make a statement and it begins with fashion, including children’s sports of all ages. It’s a billion dollar industry and growing; the problem is, what happens to all of the clothing when we grow tired of it or it no longer fits and where does it end up? It’s a growing environmental epidemic beginning with our landfills…while fast fashions continue to be our second largest polluter on earth.

Fast fashions has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and in todays’ economy the ability to buy clothing at a discount has people changing wardrobes out yearly for the newest look or trend. What’s unfortunate is the attitude it comes with; if you don’t like it throw it away…this is the new ‘norm’ of social thinking and their habits. I actually read that in one of New York’s districts they dispose of 80,000 lbs. of clothing daily, which then ends up in Africa or Asia, and while that isn’t a problem…what we Americans throw away clearly is. It’s no wonder why environmentalists have so much concern and anger, this problem isn’t slowing down here and everyone wants wealth… at any cost; hence the term ‘fast fashion’. This is everybody’s problem and the more inexpensive materials (clothing) we purchase, the harder it is to teach our younger generations the importance of living with a little less, while protecting the place we live in; our planet. All of those cheap synthetic materials that are being mass produced at a fast rate just don’t disappear, they actually end up in our landfills, occupying the earths ground. As clothing lies there, the materials decompose releasing a landfill gas, which then brews into toxic air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and methane gas; much of which breeds into our air. The heat from such gas gets trapped, and so it is…Global Warming.

As I first set out to write a story about clothing, I wanted to know ‘why’ we have to have outfits for every new thing that comes along whether it’s sports related or fashion; trendy or not. However, when I began to read about the waste of clothing in this country, it made me think seriously about our landfills, recycling and what’s happening to our planet. It also reminded me of the recent hurricanes and how people would send their unwanted clothing, only to end up in our landfills once again. I figured if I could make 1 person think about making a change in how they recycle or purchase less expensive materials that aren’t biodegradable…then I have helped in some way. For those interested in more information you can go to www.planetaid.org . As for me, I will definitely be looking into better quality clothing materials, but will purchase less of it. Somehow…we must try and make a difference.

Make your week count.

Comments

  1. Paul Wightman says:

    These materials are, as you point out, synthetic polymers which do not breakdown in today’s landfills. However, if they were designed to actually breakdown in this common waste environment, chances are the “toxic air pollutants” would be captured and converted into clean energy. Manufactures need to understand that these material need to be managed throughout the entire life-cycle, including disposal, in order to derive greater value.
    The most counterproductive aspect in the sustainable management of polymer waste is the demonization of “landfills.” The single largest depository of all plastic/polymer waste today can be described in more useful terms as an anaerobically managed waste environment that provides the ability to reduce GHG emissions and increase clean energy recovery. Among other benefits, producing energy from LFG offsets the use of non-renewable resources, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, to produce the same amount of energy. When the performance of these materials coincides with THIS environment (ASTM D5526) there’s far greater value than any other option available today.

  2. David Petrillo says:

    Great column! As a man, I rarely buy clothes so I am doing my part for the environment. By buying all these “fast fashions”, we are contributing to the horrors of the sweatshops in Southern Asia. Even expensive clothing is produced in India, Vietnam, China, and similar countries. Just ask Donald and Ivanka Trump. Maybe we should go back to making our own clothes the old fashioned way – by using sewing machines at home.

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