Climate protests drew millions around the world in September. Many of the Democratic presidential candidates have rolled out ambitious plans to cut carbon while making the economy greener. There’s a sense of momentum to solve our planetary crisis. And yet a leading cause of climate change remains persistently overlooked or trivialized: clothing.
The clothing and footwear industry is responsible for 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, nearly the same as the entire European Union, according to a study by the environmental services group Quantis. Without abrupt intervention, the industry’s impact on the climate is on track to increase by almost half by 2030.
But clothing does not appear to be mentioned in the Democratic candidates’ climate plans, nor in the Green New Deal proposed by House Democrats. And while it’s coming up more in coverage about low-emissions lifestyle changes, it’s still viewed as a problem mostly for fashionistas.
但民主党候选人的气候变化计划和众议院民主党人提出的《绿色新政》(Green New Deal)似乎都没有提到服装。虽然它在低排放生活方式改变的报道中越来越多地出现，但仍被视为一个主要针对时尚达人的问题。
Indeed, caring about clothes is often considered frivolous, at odds with concern about the fate of the planet. The actor and environmentalist Woody Harrelson expressed this view when he hosted “Saturday Night Live” the week after the recent climate marches in New York. “I was always anti-fashion,” he said, “because it always seemed to me there were more important things to care about” — like melting ice caps, the Amazon burning, and the pollution of our water, air and food. Many people fail to see how the $2.5 trillion apparel industry is connected to our environment, which means we persistently pay no attention to how it might help us solve our climate crisis.
的确，对衣服的关注通常被认为是浅薄的，与对地球命运的担忧不相符。在最近纽约的气候变化游行后的一周主持《周六夜现场》(Saturday Night Live)时，演员、环保主义者伍迪·哈里森(Woody Harrelson)表达了这一观点。“我一直都反对时尚，”他说，“因为在我看来，似乎总有更重要的事情需要关注。”比如融化的冰盖、燃烧的亚马逊雨林，以及我们的水、空气和食品的污染。许多人没有看到到价值2.5万亿美元的服装业和我们的环境有着怎样的联系，这意味着我们始终没有注意到它可能如何帮助我们解决气候危机。
Clothes are easy to ignore because they are made far away and have throughout history been made by enslaved, unpaid and low-paid laborers, often by women. But clothing affects every other environmental problem we care about. Let’s say you wear a cotton T-shirt — it required thousands of gallons of water to make. If that T-shirt is viscose rayon, it may well have come from a tree felled in the Amazon (viscose rayon is made from plants). And if it’s polyester, acrylic or nylon, you’re wearing plastic. When those plastic clothes get washed, they junk up our oceans with microplastic pollution.
Fortunately, some clothing companies are waking up to the climate crisis. A growing number of brands are bowing to grass-roots pressure and consumer surveys that show that sustainability and ethics are top concerns for young shoppers. In August, at the Group of 7 summit, 32 clothing brands got together to set “science-based targets” for emission reductions. Since then, two dozen more brands have signed this so-called Fashion Pact. Kering, the luxury conglomerate that owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, has set a goal for all of its brands to go carbon-neutral.
幸运的是，一些服装公司已经意识到气候危机。越来越多的品牌正在向普通民众的压力低头，消费者调查也显示，可持续性和道德是年轻购物者最关心的问题。8月份，在七国集团峰会上，32个服装品牌聚集在一起，就减排制定了“基于科学的目标”。自此，又有24个品牌签署了这一所谓的“时尚协定”(Fashion Pact)。拥有古驰(Gucci)、伊夫圣罗兰(Yves Saint Laurent)和巴黎世家(Balenciaga)的奢侈品集团开云(Kering)为旗下所有品牌制定了实现碳中和的目标。
But fashion can’t go green on its own. It won’t even make a dent in the problem without international cooperation and mainstream attention. Two new reports, one by Stand.earth and the other by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, show that most brands aren’t measuring their emissions, much less cutting them. That’s because a vast majority of the greenhouse gas emissions the clothing industry churns out happens in the supply chain — in factories and farms that brands don’t own, and that are spread out and far away.
但时尚业无法凭自身的力量走向环保。没有国际合作和主流的关注，它甚至不会给这个问题带来轻微的改变。两份新报告——一份由Stand.earth、另一份由公共与环境事务研究所(Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs)出具——显示，大多数品牌都没有在测量它们的排放量，更不用说减排。这是因为制衣行业产生的绝大多数温室气体排放都发生在供应链上——即非品牌所有的工厂和农场，而且分散在很远的地方。
The clothing industry, like most industries, is also stubbornly reliant on fossil fuels. They’re used to fire up boilers in textile mills, to make the pesticides dumped onto cotton fields and to produce the gobs of chemicals that dye and finish fabrics. Fossil fuels are also the feedstock of synthetic fibers, which now make up the bulk of what we wear. Getting clothing off oil will not be easy.
Consumers have an important part to play in making fashion sustainable. We can work to extend the life of all clothes by switching more of our purchases to secondhand and online resale, renting for special occasions, and repairing clothes instead of throwing them away. We can choose remanufactured and upcycled apparel like those on offer from Eileen Fisher and Converse.
We can turn our washing machines down to cold and consider air drying more of our laundry. We should also support companies that are making genuine efforts to curb their carbon footprint and to source more sustainable materials (the Good on You app and Stand.earth’s rankings are places to find them).
我们可以把洗衣机的温度调到低温，并考虑更多地自然晾干我们洗的衣物。我们应当支持那些真正在努力遏制碳足迹和寻找更多可持续材料的公司（可以通过Good on You应用以及Stand.earth的排名找到它们）。
We also need activists, journalists, scientists, investors and academics who focus on sustainability to include clothing in their work. We need technological innovation and investment in new fibers and manufacturing processes, deeper research and more cutting-edge ideas.
And we need government action and innovative policy that accounts for the global impact of the stuff we buy. Other countries have already made progress: France has passed a bill banning the destruction of unsold clothing and requiring large companies to ensure environmental and human rights in their supply chains. And the British Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has spent the last two years looking into how to make the fashion industry more sustainable.
并且我们需要政府的行动和创新政策，来应对我们所购买商品的全球影响。其他国家已经取得了进展：法国通过了一项法案，禁止销毁未售出的服装，并要求大企业确保其供应链中的环境权利和人权。英国议会的环境审计委员会(Environmental Audit Committee)在过去两年中也一直在研究如何使时装业更可持续。
We need a champion of the fashion movement in Washington: Perhaps Nancy Pelosi, whose six-year-old Max Mara coat went viral last year, is our movement’s leader in waiting. But it could also be a Republican, a number of whom are talking about climate action and who should see the potential in green manufacturing. We need major fashion hubs like New York and Los Angeles and former manufacturing giants in the South and Midwest to join this cause, too.
我们需要华盛顿有一位时尚运动的捍卫者：或许是南希·佩洛西(Nancy Pelosi)——她穿了6年的麦丝玛拉(Max Mara)大衣去年在网上疯传——是我们正在等待的时尚运动领袖。但也可能是共和党人，他们中一些人正在谈论气候行动，他们应当看到绿色制造业的潜力。我们也需要纽约和洛杉矶这样的主要时尚中心，以及南部及中西部的前制造业巨头加入这项事业。
But first we need all people who care about climate change to understand that they’re part of the problem and the solution, just by wearing clothes.