Take a minute to think about what you’re wearing right now. Not the colors or cuts of fabric you grabbed out of your closet this morning—but the textiles your clothes are made of.
Before your clothes became clothes, they were raw resources that were collected, processed, woven into textiles, then cut and sewn into the garments on your back. And their life cycle doesn’t end there. Nearly 90% of clothing takes an inevitable trip from closet to landfill. The problem is that although this process provides short-term convenience for customers and the fashion industry, in the long run, it’s not sustainable. Making and transporting clothes consumes raw materials and, at every step in the process, emits greenhouse gases.
Does it have to be that way? Or can we reduce the fashion industry’s environmental footprint by recycling used clothes, like we do with plastic bottles? Plastic bottles consist of polymers such as polyethylene, (C2H4)n, a derivative of fossil fuels.
Your clothes are not much different. Many synthetic materials, such as polyester, are also made of polymers derived from fossil fuels, which are a nonrenewable resource.