UK apparel wholesaler Continental has just completed a comprehensive exercise to determine the carbon footprint of its cotton clothing. The methodology used was British Standards’ PAS 2005:2008.
Here’s what they found for a small charcoal women’s short-sleeve T-shirt with a colour print. The values refer to kg of CO2e (total carbondioxide and other GHGs) per lifecycle:
It’s probably not a surprise that consumer use leads the pack here, particularly tumble drying and ironing, which – if avoided – could cut the total by another 37 percent. The simple message is, of course, one about sustainable consumption patterns – which is still often overlooked.
The one issue I see is the standard lifecycle definition. The executive summary speaks of 25 washing cycles. Is that cutting it too short? My oldest T-shirt (which I still wear occasionally) is 18 years old. Imagine that footprint!
(Hat tip: Maya Forstater)