shirt THESIS.jpg
 
 

SCAD MFA Candidate of Fibers Leah Blair is a political artist and environmental advocate.

After learning that the fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter, Blair made it her mission to raise awareness of this global issue. For this body of work Blair spent months digging through dumpsters, collecting water bottles and discarded clothing. She used these materials to create an installation that conveys the scale and disposable nature of the fast fashion industry. It is her goal to provide a glimpse into the hidden elements of the complex global system.

For Blair, conscious consumerism is not enough to change the environmentally degrading system. It is essential that we find ways to spark dialogue centered around the process of discovering and creating alternatives and solutions.

 
 
5,250 water bottles equals 700 gallons, which is how much water is needed to grow the cotton for one t-shirt.  This doesn’t include water and chemicals used for dyeing/bleaching, and finishing. Production is equal to only 70% of the environmental impact of a cotton t shirt, other things to consider are consumer care, one load of laundry equals 40 gallons of water. How many times have you washed your favorite tshirt?  

5,250 water bottles equals 700 gallons, which is how much water is needed to grow the cotton for one t-shirt.  This doesn’t include water and chemicals used for dyeing/bleaching, and finishing. Production is equal to only 70% of the environmental impact of a cotton t shirt, other things to consider are consumer care, one load of laundry equals 40 gallons of water. How many times have you washed your favorite tshirt?  

  68 pounds is the average total of how much clothing an American throws away each year. Overall, Americana dispose of 14 million tons of clothing a year. Between 2000 and 2014, textiles increased in the municipal solid waste stream by a staggering 71% – more than double the growth of any other major waste category. 70 percent of unwanted clothes in the United States in 2012 went into either a landfill or an incinerator. When natural fibers enter a landfill they produce the potent greenhouse gas methane as they degrade. Natural fibers go through a lot of unnatural processes on their way to becoming clothing, they’ve been bleached, dyed, printed on, scoured in chemical baths. Those chemicals can leach from the textiles and—in improperly sealed landfills—into groundwater. Burning the items in incinerators can release those toxins into the air. This 68 pounds doesn’t include donated clothing, of which .01 get resold, and the rest is sold to profit textile mills or in bulk to developing nations. Over 70% of clothing donated globally end up in Africa. This is also coming to a halt as the re-sale market is already overs saturated, and has destroyed local textile industry.  There is a currently a proposed ban on importing used clothing into East Africa; the U.S is threatening trade sanctions if the ban goes through.

 

68 pounds is the average total of how much clothing an American throws away each year. Overall, Americana dispose of 14 million tons of clothing a year. Between 2000 and 2014, textiles increased in the municipal solid waste stream by a staggering 71% – more than double the growth of any other major waste category. 70 percent of unwanted clothes in the United States in 2012 went into either a landfill or an incinerator. When natural fibers enter a landfill they produce the potent greenhouse gas methane as they degrade. Natural fibers go through a lot of unnatural processes on their way to becoming clothing, they’ve been bleached, dyed, printed on, scoured in chemical baths. Those chemicals can leach from the textiles and—in improperly sealed landfills—into groundwater. Burning the items in incinerators can release those toxins into the air.

This 68 pounds doesn’t include donated clothing, of which .01 get resold, and the rest is sold to profit textile mills or in bulk to developing nations. Over 70% of clothing donated globally end up in Africa. This is also coming to a halt as the re-sale market is already overs saturated, and has destroyed local textile industry.  There is a currently a proposed ban on importing used clothing into East Africa; the U.S is threatening trade sanctions if the ban goes through.

From cradle to grave each fiber has its own environmental impact. The amount of resources needed to grow and process cotton and wool can be just as hazardous as the input for synthetics.  There is a lack of research on all elements of the life cycle that make it impossible to know the actual footprint of clothes. Extracting oil, growing cotton, transporting, are all part of the processing. Though consumer care, washing and drying, use energy and water as well. How we dispose of clothing also has a great environmental impact. In this interactive piece I highlight the lesser known facts about the major fibers used in clothing. I encourage you to examine your own clothing, look at the tag and cut it off to add to the appropriate beaker.  

From cradle to grave each fiber has its own environmental impact. The amount of resources needed to grow and process cotton and wool can be just as hazardous as the input for synthetics.  There is a lack of research on all elements of the life cycle that make it impossible to know the actual footprint of clothes. Extracting oil, growing cotton, transporting, are all part of the processing. Though consumer care, washing and drying, use energy and water as well. How we dispose of clothing also has a great environmental impact.

In this interactive piece I highlight the lesser known facts about the major fibers used in clothing. I encourage you to examine your own clothing, look at the tag and cut it off to add to the appropriate beaker.