I Found Out my Fashion Footprint

So, I’ve seen a lot of buzz on social media recently about ThredUp’s fashion footprint quiz, and as a huge sustainable fashion advocate I had to take the quiz myself. I thought it would be fun to share my answers and a few of the things I’ve learnt with you. You can take the quiz for yourself, here!

The quiz begins by asking you how often you buy both new and used clothing. I estimated that I buy clothes about 8 times a year. Considering annually around 80 billion garments are produced in the world (and the population is around 7.8 billion) I think I’m probably on the lower end here.

Secondly it asks you what types of clothing you’re buying. Interestingly it notes that jackets, dresses and jeans are much more carbon intensive to manufacture than t-shirts. I find that jeans and dresses in particular are some of the hardest things to buy second hand as it’s quite challenging to find pieces that fit.

The next question asks how often you purchase clothing, online or in-store. Online shopping is a very rare thing for me, so I answered 90% in store. I was quite shocked to find out that shopping online has a lower carbon impact. Although I don’t think anyone should be too concerned about their carbon impact when shopping in-store for second-hand clothing.

The fourth question asks what percentage of your clothing you return. I answered 0% as like I said before, I rarely buy online, and when I’m in store I always try the item on! Its amazing to find out that 25% of returned garments end up in landfill. No doubt this has a lot to do with brands selling items so cheap that it’s not even worth them trying to resell, it’s shocking.

Question five asks what percentage of your clothes are second-hand; I answered 80%; which is 60-70% less carbon intensive than buying new, awesome. The second part to the question asks how many are from sustainable brands; to which I answered 5% as I have only ever purchased one sustainable item.

The newest second-hand edition to my wardrobe!

Question six focuses on clothing rental; something I have never tried but I’m definitely curious about.

Laundry is the subject of the next question; precisely how many loads you do in a month. I do laundry once a week; which I thought was quite a lot until I read that the average US household does 5-6 loads a week! I realise that’s probably for a family; but it definitely seems like a high amount.

Continuing on the theme of laundry; the next question asks about laundry habits. I wash exclusively with warm water (I don’t actually have a choice at the university laundromat!) but I almost always air dry. As much as I’d like to say I do it for the environment; its mostly because it costs £1.20 to dry clothes and I see that as an unnecessary cost. Air drying is a win for the environment and for your bank account.

Question ten asks how many items you repair each year. I answered two. Unfortunately, I have no repair skills (something I really want to work on at some point) so I’m often reliant on my mum to do the repair work!

Finally, the last question is on disposal. I answered that I sell or donate around 90% of my clothing. Of course this is the better option, but there is the occasion when something is not in a good enough condition sell or donate. Unfortunately, sometimes things do end up in the bin; but I know I could be finding other ways to put the fabric to use.

As for my results: my fashion footprint is low! It would have been a little embarrassing if it had come out as high. My fashion habits contribute to 174 Ibs of carbon emissions annually compared to the average of 1620 Ibs. This makes my footprint 89% lower than the average consumer.

I find that last statistic quite astonishing. It makes me wonder how much people are really buying, clothing has become something that is no longer an item we need, it’s a purchase we make for fun, to feel good, to fit in. Clothing has lost its functionality, and I think we need to get back to that.

I think what the quiz really emphasises is just that its good to very simply; buy less. This is really my philosophy when it comes to ethical fashion, if I don’t really love something, and I’m not confident I’ll wear it at least 30 times, then I don’t need it.

Have you taken the quiz? Let me know how you felt about your fashion footprint!

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