Here in Canada we have entered into the homestretch of what has felt like a very long, very drawn out election campaign. On October 19th Canadians are going to either decide we need a new Prime Minister or stay the course and re-elect Prime Minister Steven Harper. Electoral rhetoric has centered around issues such as the economy, a shrinking or growing middle class (depending on the party), refugees, immigration, human rights, naughty senators and all parties doing damage control when their candidates became the centre of major media gaffes; which goes to show you NOTHING ever goes away once its cast into the sea that is Social Media. The one topic that has not been broached by our candidates is the Environment, this is ironic particularly since the first half of 2015 experienced a mish mash of extreme weather that no one in this hemisphere could ignore. Wildfires in B.C., tropical rainstorms in February, snow on Mother’s day and one of the world’s driest spots Chile’s Atacama Desert flooded.
While our future leaders choose not to address this subject in their campaign, we at the Oasis Movement would like to draw attention to how beneficial clothing banks are to our environment. The clothing industry is not an environmentally friendly one, the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) aka their carbon footprint which the clothing and textile industry produces is massive. It is estimated that the textile industry accounts for 10% of total carbon emissions or 1 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity in addition to using 9 trillion liters of water. One of the worst offenders is cotton which accounts for 40% of all fabrics produced. Cotton is cultivated in dry climates (southern U.S., India etc.) and requires vast amounts of water to thrive; one cotton shirt uses approximately 2700 litres of water during the cultivation process. Dyeing fabric also uses up large quantities of water 600 L per 1 kg of fabric, this lopsided ratio is frightening.
These numbers are large and frightening but for the average person they are difficult to put into perspective. The world’s largest retail and service group, the Otto Group conducted a study to determine the carbon footprint made by one ladies white long sleeve. The study discovered that during its lifespan this single white shirt will produce approximately 10kg of CO2. The breakdown is as follows:
~1kg Cotton cultivation
~3kg Spinning, dyeing, cutting, assembly, sewing
~3kg Packaging, storage delivery from point of distribution
~3Kg Laundering shirts for duration of ownership (based on 55 washes).
~10kg CO2 Total Carbon Footprint
However the last CO2 reading for laundering the shirt is based on a household that does not use a dryer or iron, add these two factors the CO2 emission increases by a staggering ~9kg, this almost doubles the carbon footprint to ~19kg CO2. While this number is frightening these numbers can be mitigated on our end as consumers for instance, using an energy efficient washer and dryer, using cold water instead of warm or hot water (90% of the energy your washing machine uses is to heat the water), and hanging your clothing to dry are all easy ways to greatly decrease CO2 emissions. There are other perhaps less obvious ways to reduce the total carbon footprint of the clothing and textile industry, by recycling your gently used clothing to your local clothing bank and by shopping in second hand stores you are helping to decrease demand for newly manufactured clothing.
If you live in the greater Toronto area the Oasis Clothing Bank will pick up your gently used clothing for FREE, or visit our website http://www.clothingbank.ca for a donation bin nearest you. We would also like everyone to keep in mind:
“Every election is determined by the people who show up”. –Larry J. Sabato,.
Don’t forget to vote on October 19th, 2015.