The Day After Earth Day
My favorite mural around USC is this one that says Earth Day Everyday. That saying kept going through my mind all day today. People focus on the Earth and all that it does for one day of the year. This is great, don’t get me wrong — it’s important to have people thinking about the impact they have on the planet. But then April 23rd rolls around and it’s just another day. This is frustrating to me. And yes, while I do think a little bit more about the food I’m wasting and the packaging I’m throwing away on Earth Day, I don’t just forget all about it tomorrow. We use the Earth every single day and every moment of every day, so why should we only focus on it/talk about it /think about it/Instagram about it for one day?
I’ve reflected a lot about the fashion industry and it’s impact on the environment in the past few days, because Earth Week and Fashion Revolution Week coincide and we just finished watching The True Cost in my fashion communications class. All of my thinking peaked when I bought a tour tee-shirt at The 1975 concert that I attended on Tuesday. Immediately after I payed for it I didn’t feel good about it. It was the first thing I’ve bought in quite a long time and it was definitely an impulse buy. It’s a cool shirt, don’t get me wrong, and there’s some good sentimental value attached to it, but I didn’t need it. Needless to say I won’t be buying anything more any time soon.
So on this good ol’ day-after-Earth-Day, I rounded up some stats about the fashion industry and the environment to keep you thinking about our impact on this lovely planet of ours:
- the average American now generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year
- cotton production is now responsible for 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of total insecticide use
- one third of a pound of pesticides is required to create one cotton tee-shirt
- the leather tanning process is among the most toxic in all of the fashion supply chain and studies have found that leather tannery workers are at a far greater risk of cancer, by between 20% – 50%
- the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, next to oil
- the EPA estimates that 97% of post-consumer textile waste is recyclable
- recycling textiles does not create any new or hazardous waste or byproducts
These shocked me the first time I read them, and continue to shock me every time I come across them. It’s amazing how much of an impact the fashion industry has on the environment, and it’s a topic that is often overlooked. But don’t let these statistics scare you (well yes, let them scare you, but don’t just let them scare you) because there are easy ways to live and shop more sustainably every day of the year:
- buy less
- thrift or shop second hand
- buy and sell clothes on Poshmark
- recycle your old clothes with textile recycling programs
- reuse your old clothes as rags or for fun DIY projects
- shop sustainable brands
- learn more and talk about it with your friends/family/teachers/dogs/anyone that will listen — informing people is one of the best ways to make a difference
I hope on this day-after-Earth-Day you continue to think about the impact you’re leaving in the way that you live and in the way that you shop. Go out and enjoy all that the Earth has to give us and leave it better than you found it, not just today but every day after that. And always remember: Earth Day is every day!!