Amazon and General Motors have committed to becoming carbon-free by 2040. Apple wants to be carbon-neutral by 2030, while Google appears to have been carbon-neutral since 2007. Carbon neutrality is a growing trend among large corporations — and even whole countries — but what does it entail, and is it something that the ordinary citizen can achieve? When it comes from an enterprise or a country’s economy, achieving carbon neutrality is a worthy target, but it’s also a worthwhile goal for people.
Since the fashion industry is a giant in carbon emissions, much scrutiny has been directed at it. Although other consumer products face comparable problems, the fashion industry is unique in that it not only undergoes, but also promotes, a rapid rate of transformation. Consumers are forced to purchase the new products to keep on trend with each passing season (or microseason). It’s difficult to imagine all of the components that go into making a dress, but consider denim as an example. According to the United Nations, a single pair of jeans contains one kilogram of cotton. Cotton is cultivated in dry conditions, so this kilo takes around 7,500–10,000 litres of water to produce. For one person, that’s around ten years’ worth of drinking water. There are options to make denim less resource-intensive, but in general, jeans made from cotton that is as close to its natural state as possible use less water and less toxic treatments in the manufacturing process. This means less bleaching, sandblasting, and pre-washing is needed.