Are your clothes killing the planet?



Fashion may look pretty on the runway and on Instagram feeds, but behind the scenes it wreaks havoc on the environment.

That’s because the building blocks of modern clothing — polyester and similar synthetic textiles — are, basically, plastic fibers made from coal, petroleum, air and water.

Compounding that is the huge consumption of water, which, contaminated by pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals used in apparel production, is later discharged into waterways. Garments, when laundered, shed tiny fibers that slip through sewage and washing machine filters and end up in the ocean. And there are the mountains of castoff clothes that sit in landfills releasing greenhouse gases. The federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans threw out 11.9 million tons of clothing and footwear in 2015.

“The fashion industry’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is more than the maritime and flight industries combined,” says Annie Gullingsrud, a sustainable fashion consultant, author and adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts, citing an Ellen MacArthur Foundation studyAnd 8 percent of global GHG emissions comes from the production of apparel and footwear, Gullingsrud adds.

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