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Organic Consumers Association

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Care What You Wear

Upcycling Your Clothes Could Reduce Over a Billion Tons of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The world's largest fashion activism movement is here to help consumers reduce waste and improve their buying habits.

We can use canvas bags at the grocery store. We can cycle to work. We can even be vegan and have solar panels on our roofs. But we’re probably still helping destroy the planet.

Our clothes -- often made from oil, using huge quantities of water, in factories powered by coal, made 80 percent of the time by women between 18-24 years old earning low wages, and shipped around the world -- means that today the fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world. In fact, a report published last month by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that the waste and the throwaway nature of fashion means that the industry creates 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse emissions every year — that’s more than all international flights and shipping combined. But despite fast fashion’s devastating impact, most of us are guilty of financing it.

The report published by the MacArthur Foundation ends with four calls-to-action: phase out substances of concern and microfibre release; increase clothing utilization, for example by the industry supporting and promoting short-term clothing rental businesses; radically improve recycling; and move to renewable materials. These are aimed at the industry itself, but since our money is what makes the fashion world go round — it’s us consumers that are going to have to catalyse this change.

Orsola de Castro, the Founder of Fashion Revolution knows just that. On April 24 2013, following the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, which was home to five garment factories all manufacturing clothing for big global brands, and which caused the death of 1,138 people (mostly young women), Orsola de Castro decided things in the fashion industry had to change. And launched the Fashion Revolution, which today it is the world's largest fashion activism movement.

What should the future of fashion look like? One that “values people, profit, creativity and the environment in equal measure,” Orsola de Castro told VICE Impact. But it is “our collective responsibility to make sure this will happen.”

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