“One truckload of clothing is wasted per second.” Are you kidding me? This is from the findings of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF) new report on the textile industry. Also this:

“If the industry continues on its current path, by 2050, it could use more than 26 percent of the carbon budget associated with a 2°C pathway.”

Let’s think like a geometric proof:

  • Textile industry is hugely wasteful.
  • Waste presents opportunity for improvement.
  • Therefore, textile industry is a huge opportunity.

Sorry, but I love geometry. Let’s look at some numbers now.

  • “An estimated $500 billion value is lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled.” (EcoWatch, reporting on the EMF industry report.) Also, the fashion industry is worth $1.3 trillion and employs something like 300 million people.
  • “With the production of a single cotton T-shirt requiring over 700 gallons of water, the fashion industry is now being confronted with the strain it puts on our planet’s finite resources.” (TriplePundit)
  • “Clothing and household textiles currently make up 6.3 % of the waste stream or the equivalent of 81 pounds per person thrown away annually in the US. Nearly 95% of used clothing and textiles can be reused and recycled.” (SMART Association)
  • “Polyester production for textiles released about 706 billion kg (1.5 trillion pounds) of greenhouse gases in 2015, the equivalent of 185 coal-fired power plants’ annual emissions.” (World Resources Institute)

Wow! That’s just the tip of the iceberg (follow the links above for more). Also, it’s clearly horrible for the environment. What’s the solution? Well, lots of people have ideas, like reverting back to real fur (to avoid synthetics) and mainstreaming sustainable fashion (i.e., getting it on the shelves and affordable). What does sustainable fashion look like? One vibrant possibility is a circular model, as proposed in the EMF report.

Circular Fashion Industry Model - Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Clearly, a strategy that focuses on making better use of resources, recycling, increased durability of consumables, and reducing poisonous substances is good for humanity. The future depends on everyone coming around to models like this. What do you see as big opportunities here? How could your wardrobe or penchant for fashion contribute to a solution? Stay tuned for more on this huge opportunity area for the Climate Economy!

Copyright header image: egorr / 123RF Stock Photo