The true cost of the process of making a cotton t-shirt

The true cost of the process of making a cotton t-shirt

What are the costs of making clothes so cheap? Well, consider an article of clothing that we are likely to wear at some point: T-shirts belong to an industry responsible for 10% of global CO₂ emissions, depending on the brand of T-shirt you are wearing, you could be contributing to these emissions already. a long list of other environmental and social damages. But to really understand these impacts, we need to explore the supply chain that creates them.

Spinning a thread

Most of the T-shirts are made from cotton, which is grown in 80 countries by 25 million farmers who produced a total of 25.9 million tons of fiber between 2018 and 2019. Conventional cotton cultivation consumes 6% of the pesticides in the world, although it only uses 2.4% of the world’s land. These chemicals control pests like the pink bollworm, but they can also poison other people and wildlife. Farmers tend to use large amounts of synthetic fertilizers to maximize the amount of cotton they grow, which can degrade the soil and pollute rivers.

More than 70% of the world’s cotton production comes from irrigated farms and it takes one and a half Olympic pools of water to grow a ton of cotton, not to mention that cotton is sometimes grown in places where there is a shortage of water, a single one of your t-shirts could have used 7,000 liters of water just to grow the cotton it’s made of. That’s a lot of water for a t-shirt, especially considering that the farmer can only have 10-20 liters of water a day for washing, cleaning and cooking.

But the negative impacts only start with the growth of the fibers. Cotton has to be spun into yarn, which consumes a lot of energy and is the second highest source of carbon pollution in the entire life cycle of the shirt, after the dyeing process.

The cotton thread is then woven into the fabric that makes up the shirt. Worldwide, this process generates approximately 394 million tons of CO₂ per year.

Final touches

Then color is added to the fabric. This can be done in many different ways, but they all depend on fresh water, which can become contaminated with tiny fibers or chemicals that are harmful to animals and plants. In some cases, this water is discharged directly into the environment without treatment. In Cambodia, for example, where clothing comprises 88% of industrial manufacturing, the fashion industry is responsible for 60% of water pollution.

The dyeing process uses a lot of energy to heat water, as most dye reactions occur at 60 ° C or higher. The colored fabric must then be washed and dried to prepare it for the final stage – making the garment. In general, it takes about 2.6 kg of CO₂ to produce a T-shirt, the equivalent of driving 14 km in a standard passenger car.

Transporting the shirt to your home represents less than 1% of the total emissions of the garment. But once there, it consumes energy, water, and chemicals. Washing, ironing and drying clothes accounts for a third of the overall climate impact of clothes. Synthetic clothing, made from materials such as polyester, generates tiny plastic fibers when washed, which eventually drain into rivers and the sea. Research suggests that synthetic fabrics are responsible for up to 35% of all microplastics that pollute the ocean.

The change

There are many changes that can be made to prevent consumerism from continuing to explode the planet, among them is donating clothes, this simple action is more ecological than throwing it away.

There are also a number of textile companies on the planet that specialize in delivering quality sustainable fashion striving to reduce the environmental impact, FOKUS GREEN is part of that number of companies, we want to change the world, over the years we have We have saved 84 million liters of water when producing our fabrics, we recycle textiles that have already finished their useful cycle and process them together with the pet bottles that we collect, there have already been 175 thousand bottles that have become fashion, and there will be many more, our goal is to save the world, many other companies have joined the sustainable fashion initiative, creating countless useful accessories and shoes created with pineapple or coffee fibers, vegan leather clothing and banana fiber, and bags of yucca, potato and corn, which are biodegradable, even dissolving with water. All these companies have the same purpose: to set a trend and raise awareness.

¡Also join the change!

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