The environmental impact of clothing part 2

Vintage Fashion
5 min readDec 11, 2020


For years I was obsessed with buying clothes. I would buy 10 pairs of very cheap jeans just for the sake of having more diversity in my wardrobe for a low price, even though I ended up wearing only two or three of them

Does this quote sound familair to you?

The drop in garment prices over the last 20 years has allowed us to buy more and more clothes. We now have 5 times more clothes than our grandparents had. This felt great to me until I personally found out what was hiding behind this trend….

In the previous blog post, I went over air pollution, water pollution and human rights abuses. In case you did not read it, you can read that article here!

Today, on this Friday night, you will be reading about 2 other (negative) impact areas of our apparel industry. It is a week focused fully on our environment!

The reason why I am writing about this is to show you my motivational reasons behind switching to vintage clothing, rather than only buying new items.

Clothing in general has complex supply chains that makes it difficult to account for all of the emissions that come from producing a pair of trousers or new coat. Then there is how the clothing is transported and disposed of when the consumer no longer wants it anymore.

What makes the fashion industry particularly problematic is the times of change it encourages. With each passing season, consumers are usually unconsciously pushed into buying the latest items to stay on trend and up-to-date…. This is strongly being reinforced by today’s saturated world of fashion influencers, promoting their newest fashion items.

climate change

According to the Institute of Sustainable Communication, the clothing industry is the world’s second-largest clean water polluter. The global apparel and footwear industry produced more greenhouse gases than France, Germany and the UK combined in 2018, totalling 2.1 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions — approximately four per cent of total global emissions. The fashion industry accounts for about 10% of greenhouse and global carbon emissions from human activity, and nearly 20% of wastewater. And while we are all pretty aware of the the environmental impact of flying, fashion sucks up even more energy than both aviation and shipping combined….

Did you know that how you dispose of the clothes at the end of their useful life is also important! Throwing them away so they end up in landfill can simply lead to even more emissions. The best approach to prevent this from happening is to pass them on to friends or take them to charity shops if they are still good enough to be worn. Just like I explained in my first blog post, when I shared my little secret about how looking after your clothing might be beneficial because you can give them away or resell them.

However, when doing so, you should be careful not to use this as a way of clearing space simply to buy new clothes. That is what I did 2 years ago. I was like, “well, if I make someone else happy with it and get some empty space in my wardrobe, why not replace it with that one item I have been wanting for months?”…. Then, it does not really work that efficiently…..

animal suffering

Animal welfare may not be the first thing you consider when it comes to fashion. Can you imagine yourself standing in front of the mirror, looking at your good-looking and trendy outfit and feeling doubt between whether those leather boots fit well together with your new cashmere sweater? Think twice.

It is not a secret that materials can be derived from animals, however, this fact can be lost easily in clever and unconscious marketing, combined with the great looks and feel of the product in your hands.

To give an easy example, leather; we often overlook the animals whose skins become our jackets and shoes. Every year large numbers of animals, including pigs, goats, sheep, crocodiles, snakes, kangaroos, horses and more are killed for their skins by the leather industry. Many of these animals are factory-farmed, which can involve extreme crowding and confinement, deprivation, and painful treatment at the hands of workers.

I can imagine you still would like to have a few items that are made from leather. I can tell you there are some good alternatives! It may not surprise you now, but you can go and buy second hand or recycled leather. Walk by your nearest op-shop or vintage markets to find some sweet secondhand threads. I will later write on article on great spots where you can easily go vintage shopping for a full day, so stay tuned!

Not only is vintage leather likely to be of higher quality than fast fashion leather products, as discussed in this article I wrote; Buying secondhand is a great way to minimise your carbon footprint! You can also buy secondhand or recycled fur. If you love the look and feel of fur but do you do not want to support the horrors of the modern fur industry, there is often a decent range of pre-loved fur coats at vintage boutiques and market.

Reason behind this content

I chose un purpose to not go over all the negative impacting areas of our fashion industry. I did this just with the aim to wanting to focus more on the positive side of vintage clothing instead, rather than making you feel bad. That is what I felt at the very start, after I started digging deeper into what was hiding behind all this.

But, if you feel like you would like to read more about a specific area topic I did not dive into right now, do not hesitate to let me know! I would love it if certain discussions would appear here underneath this blog post. These are very informative and interesting to engage in, so please do so if you feel like!

I cannot wait to show you my next blog post upcoming Monday. If you like this content, you can also follow me on instagram via @ut_vintageclothing.

Enjoy your weekends and speak to you on Monday!



Vintage Fashion

Here to inspire, entertain and inform truly fashion enthusiasts about vintage clothing and shopping