Growing Pains

Only about one-fifth of the clothing donated to charities is directly used or sold in their thrift shops. This means that 80% of clothing just becomes waste after the user is done with it. With adults, this is not that detrimental because since they do not grow the clothes can last a while. This is different for kids though as they go through ridiculous amounts of sizes. On the children’s place website alone, there are 9 sizes children go through from birth to age 3. This causes so much unnecessary energy on production and unneeded waste put into our environment. Currently, the clothing industry is causing a large impact globally that needs to be addressed. Luckily there has been some ideas and inventions created to help combat this wasteful issue. Within this paper, one of the forefront inventions that is making way through the eco-friendly world will be examined just how “green” they are.
Polyester, the most widely used material for clothing, is made using petroleum gas. The manufacturing of polyester and other synthetic fabrics requires large amounts of energy as well as large amounts of crude oil. If that was not bad enough, the process also releases emissions which include volatile organic compounds and acidic gases such as hydrogen chloride, which both can cause or aggravate respiratory diseases. Cotton, yet another one of the commonly used fibers in clothing manufacturing, also has quite a large environmental footprint. This accounts for 25% of all the pesticides that are used in the US (USDA). Besides the material used, one of the biggest issues with the production of clothes is the outrageous amounts of water needed to produce them. Although water seems as though a limitless supply the amount used on one shirt alone, 700 gallons, is enough to show just how much of an issue it is. With this much of an impact, changes need to be made to make clothes last longer and that is where Ryan Yasin comes in.
Ryan Yasin, an engineer in England, was faced with a problem one day when he tried to buy clothes for his niece. He bought clothes labeled as for her age but when they arrived from the mail for her, she had already grown too big to wear them. Incredibly frustrated by this, Yasin came up with a way to prevent this from happening to other people who have the need to purchase baby clothes. Using his degree in engineering, Yasin has designed a material which would allow garments to grow up to six sizes saving energy and resources every time a child has a growth spurt. By using an accordion style fold, he has created material that grows with your child. As the toddler gets bigger, the material unfolds to stretch and fit your growing child. The material is also stain and waterproof which is good for keeping children from getting sick and for avoiding having to throw out stained clothes. Also on top of that, the material is also recyclable which means after one kid gets their use the material can be reused instead of needing to get all new materials which drastically decreases the need for polyester and cotton. But just how much energy and resources are these origami outfits saving? Unfortunately, because Yasin’s designs have not been put on the market yet, there is not much data on them. So we will just take a look at how the manufacturing of one shirt compares to the 9 sizes children grow in the time that Yasin promises the shirt to last. The Huffington Post has found that one shirt uses up to 700 gallons to produce, making the growing shirt save approximately 5,600 gallons of water. This is about the amount of water used to fill a small pool. Yasin also designed the shirts to be washed in cold water. This saves 4.2 kWh per load if you consider that a hot load uses 4.5 kWh as opposed to a cold load at 0.3 kWh. If you wash a load of clothes once a week this saves 218.4 kWh a year which is equivalent to running a refrigerator for about 7 and a half months straight. According to the US Census Bureau, there are 24.2 million children under 5 in the United States alone. If every child in just the United States wore these outfits that would be the equal running about 1,219 refrigerators for 17 years, which is their average life expectancy. The math done for gallons of water saved and for energy saved in cold washes can be seen below:

\(9\times 700=5600\)

\(\frac{4.5\text{kWh}}{0.3\text{kWh}}=4.2\text{kWh}\) \(4.2\text{kWh}\times 52=218.4\text{kWh}\)

\(4.2\text{kWh}\times 52=218.4\text{kWh}\)

With only using only a few examples for comparison it is crazy to see how many resources one man’s idea can save. On top of that, this is a very brief comparison of the preservation and conservation that the origami clothes are providing for the environment. This does not factor in how many less washes they need for being waterproof and stainproof or other reductions seen in the overall production of them, These shirts alone could do so much good for the environment by help decrease the respiratory diseases that cotton’s pesticides are causing, preserve energy and water, and save money for everyone which I am sure parents will fully endorse. It is ideas like these that will help lessen our carbon footprint and help preserve the earth for generations to come. Let this be an example of how a single person, when faced with an issue, can come up with a solution that can change so much.

Bibliography

 

Boyle, Sian. “British Inventor Creates Clothes That Will Grow on Your Children… Literally: The Wonder Garment That Will Fit Any Child from Six to 36 Months.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 7 Sept. 2017, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4859866/British-inventor-creates-clothes-grow-child.html.

 

This source outlines the information of the solution being offered.

 

“Child Population in the United States.” POP1 Child Population: Number of Children (in Millions) Ages 0–17 in the United States by Age, 1950–2016 and Projected 2017–2050, United States Census Bureau, 1 July 2016, www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/tables/pop1.asp.

 

This source has the information on the child population in the United States.

 

Claudio, Luz. “Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry.” Environmental Health Perspectives, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 1 Sept. 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1964887/.

 

This source has a lot of information on the environmental impact of clothing as it is now.

 

Sweeny, Glynis. “Fast Fashion Is the Second Dirtiest Industry in the World, Next to Big Oil.” EcoWatch, Ecowatch, 17 Apr. 2017, www.ecowatch.com/fast-fashion-is-the-second-dirtiest-industry-in-the-world-next-to-big–1882083445.html.

 

This source provides additional information on the clothing impact.

Wallander, Mattias. “T-Shirt Blues: The Environmental Impact of a T-Shirt.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 3 July 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/mattias-wallander/t-shirt-environment_b_1643892.html.

This source gives numbers for how much energy and resources are used to make clothing.

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4 Responses to Growing Pains

  1. Jessica Dickey says:

    I think that this is a great idea. I enjoyed reading about the different options for clothing that will soon be made possible to the masses. However, I am wondering if there was something or some way that we can lessen the negative ecological issues due to fashion now. What can we do now to change our negative impact? I know for myself, since I enjoy sewing, I like to reuse fabric (clothing) to create other items or clothing articles. I realize that it doesn’t help in a lot of cases when dealing with problems such as stains and diseases but I’m sure there are ways to dye or sterilize it. Just as we talked about in class, recycling isn’t always the best way to go about helping the environment. If we are able to find ways, similar to this idea of reduction, and expand it to other ways that can help reduce this impact.

  2. eas5828 says:

    This post makes me realize how much clothing has an effect on our environment. I didn’t realize that polyester was made from petroleum or that cotton production contributed to 25% of all U.S. pesticide use. Knowing this information, it’s even more concerning to learn that 80% of all this will be, eventually, waste. I think it’s awesome that an outfit has been engineered to grow along with a child’s growth and that this clothing will help save energy. I feel that your post answered everything that needed to be answered. Personally, I’m curious how much of cotton production goes towards clothing and the percentage of pesticide use that goes along with it. It would be interesting to learn when Yasin’s designs could be on the market or, when on the market, how functional and efficient they would be in the U.S.

  3. eas5828 says:

    This post makes me realize how much clothing has an effect on our environment. I didn’t realize that polyester was made from petroleum or that cotton production contributed to 25% of all U.S. pesticide use. Knowing this information, it’s even more concerning to learn that 80% of all this will be, eventually, waste. I think it’s awesome that an outfit has been engineered to grow along with a child’s growth and that this clothing will help save energy. I feel that your post answered everything that needed to be answered. Personally, I’m curious how much of cotton production goes towards clothing and the percentage of pesticide use that goes along with it. It would be interesting to learn when Yasin’s designs could be on the market or, when on the market, how functional and efficient they would be in the U.S.

  4. ktn5078 says:

    Hello Madi! Your thought for this issue and your stance in the argument are both very intriguing. I find this topic to be very undermined when placed under the environmental category, because it is simply something that most of us don’t think about when buying all these articles of clothing. Never before have I realized the amount of power and water that goes into making a single shirt, then when you factor in the countless number of brands trying to sell them, it is just one big mess for the nation and the world as a whole. You make your numerical facts clear by representing them with your use of Mathjax, and seemed easy to follow because you explained the numbers ahead of time. Overall, I think funding projects to finding a better way to outfit the world would greatly benefit the future for us, and generations to come!

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