How is Climate Change Affecting our Purchasing Patterns?
It used to be that there were two seasons in the fashion industry: Fall and Spring. They started in February and September and that is when you would see the new fashion for the season ahead. So many of us had grown accustomed to this way of seasonal purchasing. However, times have changed. As we walk through stores in our shorts and sandals, we notice the racks are filled with heavy sweaters and jackets. It’s September and 85 degrees – we can’t even fathom the thought of winter coats. Now more than ever the consumer has a “buy now, wear now” mentality. If it is 80 degrees outside, we want a new sundress for our friend’s BBQ Birthday party – not a cable knit sweater (which we will be looking for before heading home for our annual family Thanksgiving feast). This is a hot topic (pun intended) being discussed globally in the apparel industry.
According to NASA, the average surface temperature is at the highest recorded level since records were taken in 1880. This is a fact that we can no longer overlook. “The uncomfortable truth is that overconsumption is a major factor in climate change,” according to Jo Paoletti a University of Maryland Professor who studies clothing trends. Even our washing and drying cycles in our own homes put out over 900 pounds of carbon dioxide per year (hence why we air dry where we can). Thousands of gallons of water are used to make each of the garments we wear (it takes an average of 2700 liters of water to produce one t-shirt). We are now finally seeing the negative affects fast fashion is having on our beautiful ecosystem.
Not only is the ecosystem taking a hit, but retailers are taking hit economically as well.
Outerwear departments over the last couple of years lost roughly $572 million dollars per year due to the elongated warmer seasons. With temperatures increasing and water supplies decreasing, cotton farmers are having an extremely rough time yielding bigger crops. The prices of cotton per pound therefore have begun rising as this issue is becoming more prevalent. As climate change is hitting their bottom line, companies are adding new strategies. Companies like Zara have a business model built to acclimate quickly to any
types of changes. They have a very speedy production timeline which allows them to respond to the trends (including climate induced ones). The irony, is that this quick production is one of the main factors of carbon emissions and water usage. Target and Kohls have even hired meteorologists and climatologists to work closely with as they buy new collections.
If this upsets you as much as it upsets us, you will be happy to hear that some people/companies out there have noticed. There are individuals and organizations willing to make substantial change to reverse these affects and provide preservation for future generations. Eco-Friendly and more sustainable brands are popping up
more courageously as an answer to the problem fast fashion has been causing all these years. Companies like Reformation create transparency in their sustainable processes from start to
finish, even offering free factory tours monthly so consumers can see sustainable
practices at their best. Organizations like Fashion Revolution empower the consumers to take a stand by showing their clothing labels on social media to challenge companies
What you can do at home
Know where your clothes come from, ask your favorite brands how they produce their garments (water usage, sustainable practices and factory conditions are all topics to inquire). #whomademyclothes
Buy less and maintain a smaller and more eco-conscious closet.
Re-vist the clothing you have and come up with new fun ways to wear them, incorporate more layering in your life and challenge your creativity
Shop vintage so you are not supporting over –production
P.S. - If you are building your sustainable collection or just buying new clothes for fun, please consider going through the links in this blog post. It helps keep the website going, community supported, and the information free! Plus, it doesn't cost any extra. Win-win!