It’s time to wrap up
As autumn slowly moves into winter, the mornings are getting darker and the temperature is slowly dropping.
That means it’s time to break out the winter wardrobe and wrap up with your trusty winter coat.
As we all know there are lots of ways that modern living can damage the environment.
Examples include flying, using single-use plastic, and even your commute to and from work.
The impacts of our clothing, however, are less visible and whilst winter coats didn’t start out having a damaging impact, with mass production, cheaper cost and the use of plastic, the environmental impact of this staple garment has grown.
The History of your winter coat
The modern Parka coat is credited to the Inuits, who were masters in making insulating garments due to their exposure to the harsh Arctic cold.
The intestines of whales or seals were used to make the first waterproof parkas.
Two parkas would frequently be worn at once to increase insulation and air circulation in sub-zero weather, according to the Encyclopaedia of Clothing and Fashion.
The drawstring hoods on Inuit parkas were very similar to those on modern parkas.
Did you know the waterproof coat was invented to create a use for a fossil fuel industry by-product?
A wearable waterproof cloth was created by Charles Macintosh in 1823 when he was looking for a use for Naphtha, a by-product of coal-tar distillation.
He was able to glue two layers of wool together by using the rubber solution created by using Naphtha as a solvent for rubber.
The Environmental Impact of your winter coat
Modern textiles in your winter coat heavily rely on petrochemical compounds, which means by wearing a coat made from these materials you are actually supporting the fossil fuel industry.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, fashion contributes up to 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, which is more than international travel and shipping put together.
That isn’t the only problem.
The fashion industry also uses around 5% of the 300 million tonnes of plastic manufactured annually worldwide.
This is because, since the 1960s, cotton has been replaced as the primary raw material for textile production by polyester, a plastic-based material made from oil.
Microplastic contamination, which is particularly damaging to marine life, is primarily produced by clothing made of polyester and other synthetic fibres.
It doesn’t stop there.
The modern fashion way is to make things cheaply and encourage consumers to bin poorly made products after a short time and replace them with new cheaply made products.
This leads to two issues.
Firstly, we get used to paying low prices for garments and, when a sustainable well-made product is priced higher than its non-sustainable alternative, it is seen as too expensive.
This is the short-term view the fashion industry perpetuates, when in fact the more expensive sustainable garment will last years and years and in the long term, save you money.
Secondly, there is the issue of waste.
Only a small portion of manufactured goods are recycled.
87 per cent of the entire amount of fibre needed to make garments is ultimately burned or dumped in a landfill.
The size of this impact is enormous with the equivalent of one garbage truck of clothing ending up being burned or dumped in a landfill every second!
What can you do to make your coat sustainable?
The phrase repair and reuse is a very good starting point.
Does your winter coat need to be replaced?
Can it be repaired?
If it can’t, can it be recycled? There are plenty of clothing recycling centres around the UK and Love Your Clothes has a useful tool to find where you can go to take old clothes.
If you do need a winter coat, can you buy one pre-loved?Sites like eBay and Vinted are excellent for finding amazing pre-loved bargains and you can even search by size, price and if you are into brands, your favourite brand.
There are also companies like our partner, Pre-Loved Kilo that hold weekly events around the country selling amazing pre-loved clothing by the kilo making purchases amazingly good value for money.
When buying preloved you can have the excitement of finding vintage designer brands and pay only a tiny percentage of the original price.
If you can’t repair your winter coat, or you want to buy a new one, there are some amazing brands making coats with sustainability in mind.
From ethical working practices to materials, from being made with longevity in mind to having a sustainable supply chain, these brands go the extra mile to make sure that they put people and planet together before profit.
Some of our most loved sustainable brands
The first brand we love is quite recognisable and has recently been in the news a lot as their owner gave the $3BN company away to help support the planet.
That company is Patagonia which has been transforming the fashion industry from the inside out ever since it was created by Yvon Chouinard in 1973.
As well as their women’s and men’s activewear and adventure gear, they have a fantastic range of ethically produced winter coats that are made for more than just strolling around town with that reusable cup.
Our second loved brand is Thought, a sustainable fashion brand on a mission to make sustainability a joy for all. As Thought say, “when doing good feels good, that’s when positive change happens”.
Thought’s core values centre on being deliberate and mindful in every step of the design and production processes, including the use of only slow shipping and eco-friendly and natural textiles.
Their ethical coats and jackets, made of organic cotton or recycled polyester, will keep you warm and dry.
Thought is also committed to better employment and supply chain practices.
Firstly, we get used to paying low prices for garments and then when a sustainable well-made product is priced, it is seen as too expensive.
Our final amazing brand is Outerknown, founded in 2014 by American professional surfer, Kelly Slater.
Slater had seen the impact of various industries on the ocean and decided to create a clothing brand that did things better.
This business painstakingly produces adult clothes, including outerwear, from ethically sourced materials like organic cotton and recycled fishing nets.
Not only that, but the company is transparent across its whole supply chain and has a sustainability commitment and plan which is displayed on its website.
That’s it for this week.
We hope you learned something new and that our content gave you some guidance on how to reduce your footprint and stay toasty and warm in a sustainable way this winter.
If you enjoyed the article or have any tips of your own that you would like to share, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org – we love to feature our community members in our content.
Just one step...
Join the Play It Green community and be the solution to climate change