Please check what you are wearing at this moment. It probably has some polyester.
And that is the problem.
Polyester is one reason that fashion spews in the vicinity of 10 percent of all CO2 emissions. We need only see how polyester is made to understand why. We start with petroleum that is used to make PET (polyethylene terephthalate). After stretching, PET pellets become polyester yarn. At this point, we enter familiar territory. Alone and combined with other fabrics, the yarn becomes our clothing.
You can see the whopping increase in polyester:
Then, more precisely, we can look at major retailers for unsustainable fashion:
As one example, H&M has admitted that it has had gargantuan amounts of unsold inventory that, in 2018, amounted to $4.3 billion. In 2017, one Swedish power plant said that it had been using H&M discarded clothing as fuel. Knowing about all of this waste, we can think of massive quantities of unused polyester:
Our Bottom Line: Social Norms
In the realm of behavioral economics, a social norm is what we consider average and acceptable habits. For fashion, one third of us consider clothing old after “one or two wears.” Also, a typical consumer throws out clothing after wearing it seven to ten times. Then, the fashion typically is not recycled. Instead, most discarded and unsold clothing go to landfills (or maybe a power plant).
My sources and more: My Bloomberg newsletter had most of today’s information about unsustainable fashion. From there, HBR had more detail. Then, for even more on CO2, you might want to return to our recent post on beer.