Green Living - Clothing

Fashion fades, style is eternal…and plastic is forever

For anyone hoping to reduce your carbon footprint, taking a look into your closet is not always the first thing to come to mind. Fashion is a $2-3 trillion industry that intersects with so many other industries – agriculture, fossil fuels, transportation, chemical. Studies have found the fashion industry accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, a percentage that is greater than all international airline flights and maritime shipping trips combined. If human demographic and lifestyle patterns continue on their current path, studies predict global consumption of apparel will rise from 62 million metric tons in 2019 to 102 million tons in just 10 years.

So what can you do to help lower your impact? Shop second-hand! Here are a few advantages:

  1. Shopping second-hand helps to keep plastic out of landfills.
    • Research shows that 60% of our clothes come from synthetic materials (e.g. polyester, nylon, acrylic) a.k.a. plastic. When thrown away, they often sit in landfills for hundreds of years, if not forever. 
  1. Shopping second-hand reduces global textile demand and associated waste.
    • Did you know that Americans throw out an estimated 10.5 million tons of clothing every year? In the past 50 years, annual production of clothing has dramatically increased, while clothing prices and quality have gone down.
    • Studies show that consumers buy 4 times more clothing than we used to and spend 17% less, because we buy clothes that quickly fall apart or go out of style after just one season. 
  2. Shopping second-hand reduces resources and waste from the production process. 
    • Did you know that producing one pair of jeans takes roughly 1,800 gallons of water and generates the amount of greenhouse gases equivalent to driving 80 miles?
    • 90% of cotton used for textiles come from GMOs which require harmful pesticides that contaminate water and soil supplies. 
    • Approximately 20% of wastewater worldwide comes from fabric dyeing and treatment, of which there are minimal regulations for disposing of. In many cases this waste byproduct is dumped into bodies of water, having a negative impact on wildlife ecosystems, and polluting water supplies. 
  3. Shopping second-hand can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    • The production of synthetic fabrics releases nitrous oxide into the atmosphere -a greenhouse gas that is 310 times more detrimental  than carbon dioxide. 

For a creative way to get your hands on second-hand clothes, host a clothing swap party! Invite your friends to join in bringing an agreed upon amount of clothing and accessories to the event. All of the items are fair game, so you can trade, barter, and donate clothes to your friends while snagging some great pieces to breathe new life into your closet.

Check out these stores for crafty second-hand thrifting in the neighborhood!

*Note that 350Brooklyn does not have the capacity to vet private businesses, therefore does not endorse any businesses listed. This information is offered in good faith as a general guide.

Want to learn more?

  • Read this blog by EcoCult on pollution in the fashion industry. 
  • Check out these actions intended to raise awareness of the environmental impact of the fashion industry.


Phenomenal resource: Brooklyn Eco Fashion Blogger Alden Wicker, Eco Cult

More Green Living..


Food accounts for 10-30% of a household’s carbon footprint. Shifting towards less meat-intensive diets and seeking out locally grown foods can ease the pressures that food choice exerts on climate and boost your local economy.

Home Energy

Home Energy use is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. In New York City, two-thirds of our entire carbon footprint is attributable to the use of energy in buildings. Reducing the use of energy in apartments and homes will go far to reduce this burden.