From cotton field to landfill: A garment’s journey

Sustainability academic Mark Sumner follows a T-shirt from cotton field to landfill to illustrate the true cost of fast fashion.

Consider an item of clothing we’re all likely to wear at some point – the T-shirt – the product of an industry responsible for 10 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Depending on the brand of T-shirt you’re wearing, you could be contributing to these emissions and a long list of other environmental and social harms. But to really understand these impacts, we need to explire the supply chain that creates them.

Spinning a yarn

Most T-shirts are made from cotton, which is grown in 80 countries by 25 million farmers who produced a total of 25.9 million tonnes of fifibre between 2018 and 2019. Conventional…

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