second-hand clothes

Calculating the Environmental Impact of Wardrobes

As the carbon footprint of the fashion industry is increasingly difficult to measure and track, this makes it difficult for consumers to understand their own environmental impact and potential to enact positive change. US resale site ThredUp is vying to help consumers understand their own fashion carbon footprint through a new online fashion footprint calculator powered by relevant data and analytics. As reported by Vogue Scandinavia, the calculator can process metrics such as rate of new item purchase, frequency of washing and drying and other shopping habits. The tool guides consumers to answer 10 questions before calculating an annual carbon footprint and how it ranks against the average consumer. The objective of the tool is to educate consumers so they have a better understanding of the implications of certain consumer behaviours so they can take responsibility for their own consumption habits. Hopefully consumers can break certain habits that are harmful to the environment and enact small but meaningful changes. 

One such progressive change in consumer behaviour is turning to second-hand shopping when a new item is needed. Data suggests that buying pre-loved clothing can reduce the carbon footprint of a garment by 25% due to the fact that the majority of emissions come from the production of the garment itself. Reselling and donating unwanted items, cold-washing and air-drying clothes, opting for standard shipping over express delivery and setting a limit to new purchases each year are all meaningful ways to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint score. ThredUp partnered with third-party life cycle assessment specialist Green Story to create the tool which draws from existing studies and published reports on the global warming potential of fashion garments. Notably, heavier clothing items such as coats and sweaters contribute to a higher carbon footprint than lighter items.


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