Why White Is Wicked
You probably need to be naked to read this book with a clear conscience. This reader, for one, felt like stripping off as the revelations piled up:
* it took 700 gallons of fresh water to make my cotton t-shirt;
* it’s partly down to me that 85% of the Aral Sea In Uzbekistan has disappeared because its water was used to grow cotton in the desert;
* a quarter of all the insecticides in the world are used on cotton crops;
* buckets of hazardous sludge are generated during the coating process of the metal buttons on my jeans;
* white is energy-intensive because of all the bleaching;
* being clean, and wearing white to prove it, has weakened my immune system;
* I’ll use six times more energy washing my favourite shirt than was needed to make it;
* nearly all the textiles in my life will end up in landfill - garments, household textiles, carpets, the lot.
The book from which I took these offcuts is neither alarmist, nor moralizing. On the contrary: Fashion and Sustainability: Design for Change, by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose, examines the environmental and social impacts of fashion system calmly. This matter-of-fact tone - together with its masses of well-selected examples - make the book impossible to dismiss as mere advocacy.
It is one thing to draw attention to the hidden costs of fashion - quite another to figure out what to do about them. On almost every page, much-trumpeted ‘solutions’ turn out to be less perfect than we hoped, or were told. So-called biodegradable fibres, for example, cannot be chucked on your compost heap (as I, for one, had assumed). The near-ambient conditions of home compost heaps do not provide the right temperature and humidity. PLA fibres (as some of the biodegradable ones are called) decompose only in the optimum conditions provided by an industrial composting facility - and how many of those are there in the world?