Fiona O’Malley, Director of Communications and Fundraising at World Vision Ireland
With the hugely damaging global growth of ‘fast fashion’, clothing production has doubled from 2000 to 2014, with more than 150 billion garments now produced annually, and 73% of all textiles ending up in landfill or incineration.
Textiles are the fourth largest cause of environmental pressure and World Vision Ireland said that climate change has had catastrophic impacts on the developing world. The charity is calling on the Irish public to avoid fast fashion, and to support #SecondHandSeptember by only buying garments from charity shops instead.
“Fast fashion refers to the mass production, mass disposal of clothes. This cycle of throwaway fashion is putting a huge amount of pressure on our planet and it’s utterly unsustainable," Fiona O’Malley, the Director of Communications and Fundraising at World Vision Ireland, said.
“Textiles also cause the second highest pressure on land use and are the fifth largest contributor to carbon emissions from household consumption. Our transport, food consumption and fashion addiction patterns are more than just a commute, a dinner or clicking the checkout button. Our everyday choices have direct consequences in the form of polluted air, child labour, a melting glacier and rising sea levels. We all have a part to play in fixing our fractured planet, but time is running out. We now have an opportunity to consider the role we all need to play for the survival of the next generation and the planet.”
The charity said that we should use September to reassess our consumption patterns and the impact it has not only on us in the first world, but also on the most vulnerable in the developing world, who face the worst impacts of climate change. World Vision Ireland said that many communities across the globe are displaced because of crop failure, famine, floods or extreme weather conditions which are a direct result of global warming.
“If every person in Ireland avoided buying any new clothes in September, it would make a hugely positive change to the climate crisis," added O’Malley.
“Going ‘cold turkey’ and vowing to never buying another clothing garment again may be unrealistic for many people, which is why buying clothes that already exist, in vintage or charity shops, is a great idea. By buying second hand, you are still getting ‘new’, but ‘pre-loved’ pieces, instead of contributing to a supply chain that has very damaging environmental effects. You can get some really good quality pieces in charity shops across the country. If you only buy natural, sustainable materials, like cotton, wool, hemp fibres, nettle fibres, Pinatex, or lotus fibres, it’s also better for the environment. These materials also allow the skin to breathe, unlike synthetic fibres, which make you sweat more.”
The UN states that the textile sector is responsible for between 8 and 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and it estimates that, by 2050, fashion could be responsible for a quarter of all carbon emissions.
World Vision Ireland said the bottom line is that we urgently need to make changes to live more sustainably. This involves planting billions of trees, turning away from fast fashion, and heavily reducing our food waste.
Fiona said that real climate action means changing our methods of production and consumption by reassessing how we buy and reuse textiles. The Irish charity also encouraged people who have gardens to plant trees during the lockdown, to help reduce carbon emissions. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release pure oxygen back to the atmosphere.
“Whilst lockdown has brought many difficulties and trauma, it’s also been a time for people to reassess their pace of life and the use of space in and around their homes.” Fiona said. “Trees improve the beauty around your home, improve the air quality and bring an element of tranquillity. I’ve noticed an increase in my social circles of discussions around gardening and plant shopping. Many people are looking at the landscape around their homes and considering how to turn it into a nature haven. There are several grants available for planting trees. Even a quarter of an acre can be planted and fully grant aided. For more information on tree planting grants, go to crann.ie.”