Cool News (BACK
Nov 11th 2007
The Eco-Connection between Fashion,
Trees and CO2
By Jeannette Bon Durant
What is the “CO2 Tipping Point?”
The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) level is at 383 ppm today
and rising at about 2 ppm per year. When it exceeds 450 ppm,
identified as a major “tipping point,” implications
from extensive temperature research are that there will be
disastrous effects, including increasingly rapid sea level
rise, increased frequency of droughts and floods, and
increased stress on wildlife and plants due to rapidly shifting
Tipping points can occur during climate
change when the climate reaches a state such that strong amplifying
feedbacks are activated by only moderate additional warming.
NASA research finds Earth’s
climate close to critical tipping points, with potentially dangerous
consequences for the planet. (credit/reference: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2007/danger_point.html
Eco-Connection: Trees, Fashion and CO2
You can improve the health of the planet, lower levels of CO2
gas, help climate change, reduce your exposure to allergens,
irritants and carcinogens, and create new trends in fashion simply
by making thoughtful and smart purchases – one
at a time.
Live trees and forested areas are integral to a balanced, natural
eco-system. They are essential to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2)
in the atmosphere.
Trees filter many pollutants
from the air, in addition to reducing storm water run-off
and increasing underground water storage. Their leaves remove
CO2 through photosynthesis, and the CO2 is stored throughout
the live tree. Approximately one-half of a tree’s weight
is carbon. By planting many regionally-appropriate trees around
the globe, we can significantly reduce greenhouse gases, which
are known to trap heat and effect global climate changes.
In the U.S., it takes
approximately four trees to offset a person’s average
monthly carbon use. This includes the use of electricity,
gas, driving, and air transportation, among others.
That offset equals about 1.5 billion
trees per year for everyone in the U.S. It takes time for a
very young tree to be effective at reducing greenhouse gases.
As forests mature, they become very efficient at carbon storage.
They are referred to as “carbon
sinks.” (reference: http://www.albany.edu/natweb/fscarbon.html)
The clothes you choose affect global deforestation (loss
of carbon sinks), erosion, and toxicity of soil and air - a
result of your financial support and approval of particular
fabrics and manufacturing practices.
Will your next purchase
be from standard, mainstream labels and designer clothes that
are available in various price ranges – very
familiar, in-fashion, and fairly eco-deceptive, or will you specifically
buy eco-friendly, organic clothing and sustainable fibers?
Natural Fibers, such as cotton, silk,
bamboo, and linen can be top choices, but a “natural” label
does not mean it is chemical or pesticide free, or that the
fabric processing and clothing manufacturing are gentle on
the environment. Clothing tags generally do not reveal the
entire environmental picture, and ad campaigns sell images,
not transparency of corporate practices.
Globally, forests are clear cut or burned to grow textile
and agricultural crops. The enormous destruction of trees impacts
carbon dioxide (CO2) three ways: (1) release of stored
CO2 into the atmosphere; (2) reduction of the means to
pull increased CO2 from the atmosphere; and (3) the resulting
destruction of watersheds necessary to maintain forests will
inhibit or prevent natural reforesting if the land is returned
to nature. When there is a substantial loss of trees, formerly
forested land usually experiences erosion with some loss of valuable
topsoil, and it primarily returns with shrubs and grasses, unless
a tree-planting initiative is implemented.
Many fabrics from
naturals to synthetics can create additional problems by leaving
a trail of toxins from processes that bleach and alter natural
textures. They also can use enormous quantities of water and
energy (releasing more CO2 gas) for growing and processing, and
they can emit chemicals, such as formaldehyde, into the air and
onto your skin after certain dyes and wrinkle-resistant finishes
are added. Infant clothing often uses the same fabrics and processing
as adult clothing. Because there are so many chemicals used in
standard textile and clothing production, varying regulations
have been established throughout the world in attempts to measure
and limit the levels of chemicals they release.
The ABC’s and Simple Math
of your Fashion Decisions
Awareness of these practices will help
you “be the change” through
fashion, whether you choose environment-friendly organic clothing
for (a) its positive and protective impact on the environment
and your personal health; (b) for its message to corporations
that green customers wield power and can change culture; (c)
or because you are a savvy trend-setter on the cutting edge of
Now, multiply the pieces in your own organic wardrobe by our
6 Billion roommates. Their sum = amazing. The positive effect
of clothing choices on CO2 levels and global warming is astonishingly
Your choices can make organic, eco-focused
ready-to-wear and couture fashion the next “hot thing” and
the industry standard. Market pressures will increase availability
in all price levels with a wide range of new styles, adaptations
of old favorites, and innovative green fabrics. Watch and smile
as brands compete for dominance with ever-improving green practices.
Go plant some trees in celebration
of your Power. Be
Cool and Green.