Our View – Newest culprit in global warming: clothes

Imagine this: You’ve just gone to your local Target and bought that trendy new peasant blouse that everyone insists is “so in” right now. You walk out of the store, happy with your purchase and even happier when you think of the price tag.

Cut to a few months later: The blouse suddenly looks ridiculous and tacky, so you decide you need those new low-rise jeans instead.

Seems innocent enough, right? Wrong.

By being a slave to fashion, and on top of that, one who watches her budget, you may have just upped the level of global warming on our planet.

A tad melodramatic, you say? Think again. According to a recent report conducted by Cambridge University, aptly titled “Well Dressed?,” the purchasing of cheap clothes may be worsening the source of carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. This is due to how the clothes are produced and cared for by the consumers.

The report goes on to suggest ways that global textile industries may become more eco-conscious. One of their suggestions is that people lease clothes and return them at the end of the month or season, so that garments can be lent to someone else. That way, the consumer can buy more expensive and durable clothing that can worn for years to come.

How does that sound to you? Lend your clothing to complete strangers like you do a library book? It’s surprising that the fine scholars at Cambridge could even create such a preposterous idea.

Morally it is a noble, yet idealistic approach to the looming threat that is global warming. Realistically, though, it would never happen.

First of all, the majority of Americans will buy mass amounts of trendy garments from cheap chain stores like Target or Old Navy like clockwork every season. The manufacturers aren’t going to stop creating their products just to help make the world a better place.

They are going to keep selling and we are going to keep buying. The majority of Americans don’t care about the environment like they should, and it’s certainly not going to stop them from buying those new marked-down boots at Macy’s.

But that’s not all the report had to say. It went on to suggest different tactics one can do to care for our garments in a more eco-friendly manner. One example: Buy more synthetic fabrics because they require less hot water and less ironing. The report also suggests that consumers air dry their garments and throw away their tumble dryers because they require huge amounts of energy.

It is highly unlikely that Americans, or people from other countries for that matter, will take these suggestions to heart. Can you imagine your neighbor suddenly hanging all of her clothes on a line outside her house, with her dryer sitting on her front lawn next to the garbage bags? We are too technologically dependent in this country to go back to the old ways of living. It’s just not going to happen.

So what do we do about all this? We’re in quite the conundrum. The best thing to do is to be as aware of your environment as possible and to understand the consequences of your actions, whether that is buying a new shirt every week or throwing your Coke cans in the trash. Our world is a fragile place, so let’s try and keep it around for as long as we can.


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