Environmental Impacts of Clothing

Instead of writing it all over again … I’ve listed some great websites to get you thinking about the environmental impacts of clothing, and how you can lighten your own footprint. Things to think about are:

BUYING clothes

  • How much you buy – how much do you really need or want?
  • Can you source some of your needs secondhand?
  • Can you borrow from a friend?
  • Which fabrics are kindest for the environment?**

CARING for clothes

  • How (and how often) do you wash and dry your clothes?
  • Is your washing machine energy and water efficient? 
  • Do you dry your washing on the line whenever possible?
  • Are your washing products environmentally friendly?

DISPOSING of clothes

  • Can you donate to friends or a charity?
  • Can you  swap them?
  • Get creative – Can you repurpose or revamp the items?
  • Can you recycle the fabric, buttons etc.

**Some examples of fabrics that impact the environment are:


  • Made from petrochemicals (chemical obtained from petroleum and natural gas)
  • Non-biodegradable
  • Uses large amounts of water for cooling during manufacturing process


  • Impacts on agriculture and human health due to the amount of land needed to grow the fibre and pesticide use
  • Also requires use of herbicides and chemical defoliants
  • Chemicals used continue to release into the environment during lifetime of the clothing items


  • Creates greenhouse gas Nitrous Oxide during manufacturing process
  • Made from petrochemicals
  • Non-biodegradable

 Manufacturing Process 

The production of fabrics requires a large consumption of energy. This energy consumption continues to escalate during the conversion of fabric to garment via processes such as bleaching, dying and treatment with toxic formaldehyde.

The issues of workers’ rights and animal welfare also loom large when deciding on truly green options in clothing




Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry


  1. CLOTHES SWAP 19 November 10am-2pm « Transition Knox Inc
  2. Environmental Impacts of Clothing « Canterbury Transition News

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