Did you know that the textiles industry is ranked as the 5th biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide?¹
This carbon footprint is high mainly due to the production process: manufacturing cotton and artificial synthetics alone produce 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases or 2% of global emissions.² In 2050, the sector could emit 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions if it continues along the same path.³
Polyester is the most widely used synthetic material in ready-to-wear clothing, and oil is used to make it. Its use is so common because it’s cheaper and more resistant than cotton, but oil, a non-renewable fossil resource, is used to produce 70% of synthetic fibres.
The production of textiles has a strong environmental impact, but so does washing clothes. Both because of its water and energy use but also because of the pollution it causes to water and soil. Textile fibres contain chemicals (found in detergents) and microplastics (contained in polyester) which are released into the water during washing.⁴
What can we do to reduce the impact of what we wear on the environment? We can choose the right materials such as linen, hemp, organic cotton, or recycled fibres and watch for brand affiliations with organisations like GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and Oeko Tex. We can also donate our clothes after using them and use a biodegradable or eco-responsible detergent to wash them during use.
Sources:  Erwan Autret, Engineer with Ademe, for an article in leparisien.fr: Pollution.  Fondation Ellen MacArthur: A new textiles economy, redesigning fashion’s future.  ADEME: La mode sans dessus-dessous.  Le Monde: CO2, eau, microplastique, la mode est l’une des industries les plus polluantes du monde.