15 Pyramids of Waste

15 pyramids of waste

The environmental impact of the fashion industry

Fashion - the concept - is awesome. It’s a way to express yourself, be creative, and give you a confidence boost in your day-to-day life. It ranges from priceless art, to high-tech protection against the elements, to a funky vintage shirt in the dusty back corner of a charity shop. It changes over time and evolves. I just think it’s neat. But there is a very dark side to that coin: the industry surrounding this wonderful concept plays a major role in the destruction of our planet.

Fast fashion

In the past few decades, the fashion industry has become hyper-focused on creating trends and selling as much cheap clothing as fast as possible. Last month’s clothes are over, passé; you can throw them in the bin (or the dankest, darkest corner of your wardrobe if you’re particularly sentimental). The hot new thing is now available for 8 measly pounds on your preferred webshop, but you better get it quick before something new has stolen the spotlight. This means clothes are more and more often made of low-quality, synthetic materials and produced and shipped in immense quantities. 

As a result, the current fashion industry is causing incredible damage to the environment. Just to name a couple of consequences: the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all global carbon emissions, and it produces 92 million tonnes of waste per year. Think about that for a minute. If the entire fashion industry just stopped - nothing else, just fashion - the world would be 10% closer to having no carbon emissions at all. Nobody would have to cancel their flight to the Bahamas or give up their 100% beef quarter pounder for that significant progress to be made. And the waste - 92 million tonnes of it. That is a lot; that is 92 million small cars of waste. That is fifteen Great Pyramids of Giza (and a few loose bricks) of waste per year. And don’t even get me started on microplastics. No really, I’m not gonna get started. That’s a much, much longer conversation. Google it. Terrifying stuff.

Clothing Waste Carbon Offset

Credit: “Haute Garbage” by Carl Campbell. This image is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, click here

Now what?

So, what’s the solution? Do we all just resign ourselves to wearing unadorned potato sacks for the rest of our lives? The thing is, we don’t want to. I know I don’t. Fashion is just too much fun, too much a part of our lives and society. It’s like that one aunt at family reunions who’s always jetsetting and tells the best jokes, but who also gets drunk, smashes the hosts’ fancy crockery and makes at least two people cry. You don’t just cut her out of your life; you take away the gin and start telling her off when her tongue gets a bit too sharp for the occasion. That’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re taking steps towards a cleaner, more sustainable fashion industry.

Our clothing line is 100% carbon offset (which, to be fair, you may have guessed from the name). This means that whatever carbon we emit into the atmosphere, our sister company WeOffset plants enough trees to absorb it all back into the earth. Our clothes are also made using exclusively organic and recycled materials, helping to reduce both waste and those pesky microplastics I refused to tell you about earlier. In fact, we do our best to incorporate circular economy principles wherever we can, to reduce our overall waste and consumption as much as possible. We’re not saving the world single-handedly; we’re taking away aunt Myrtle’s gin and bringing her a cup of tea instead. We’re making a start. 

- B. Brummelkamp


‘Fast fashion speeding toward environmental disaster, report warns’ 

‘The environmental price of fast fashion’ by Kirsi Niinimäki et al.

The Weoffset website

Other things to read on this topic: 

‘Pollution: the dark side of fashion’ 

‘How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply’

‘Fashion’s Environmental Impact’