Climate Action Now! Clothing and Climate Change

The Environmental Implications of Your Fashion Choices

We’ve heard quite a bit about how what we eat impacts the climate. But have you stopped to consider how what you wear might contribute to climate change and environmental degradation?

In her presentation, Dr. Ruppert-Stroescu talked about the significant impact of the textiles industry on the environment, reminding us that textiles include not only clothing, but upholstery on furniture and in cars, drapery, bedding, etc. Given the amount of water used in the manufacture of these textiles and the shedding of harmful micro-particles when they are laundered, Mary asserted that the fashion industry must change. Still, she recognized the importance of fashion as a form of self-expression. Further, she is researching and developing wearable technology, embedded in clothing, used to measure and address issues of health and well-being.

Mary introduced the idea of a “fashion detox”, in which you decide not to buy any new clothing or apparel for a period of time (say 6 months), during which you might be more inclined to creatively use the items already in drawers and closets. Mary also described a patented process for reusing fabrics from used textiles to create new clothing without waste. Learn more about this novel process, RECLÉM.

See the presentation slides.


Dr. Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, Associate Professor and Fashion Design Area Coordinator,
Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University.

Suggested Actions for CAN!

  • Reduce, reuse, repair
  • Buy with intent
  • Buy quality (It last much longer than fast fashion.)
  • Swap, gift
  • Use old, worn out clothing for rags
  • Learn to sew
  • Turn defects into beauty (e.g. embroider over holes in fabric)
  • Donate used clothing to Dr. Ruppert-Stroescu for RECLEM
  • Investigate sustainable recyclers, like Charity Sharity (now merged with the City Sewing Room on Arsenal.)

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.