Textile production is one of the worst climate culprits there is. Changing such a large industry may seem like an impossible task, but as a consumer you have a unique opportunity to make a difference. Founder and CEO of Copenhagen Cartel, Katrine Lee Larsen, shows you how you can use your values and shopping to influence the production process and help the climate.
When you stand with one of Copenhagen Cartel's products in your hands and feel the quality of the nylon, it is hard to imagine that the swimsuit, bikini or sports top once had a past as a fishing net that drifted restlessly with the ocean currents.
On the other hand, it is probably not difficult to recall the good feeling of having made a difference with your purchase. Knowing that not only your choice has helped to remove a deadly web of plastic that endangers animals and plants in the sea. You have also saved the climate from pollution and saved the planet's precious resources. You have contributed to a better future for everyone.
Imagine if you could have that feeling every time you made a purchase. It is not an unattainable dream, but a reality you can help create when you let your values guide your consumption.
It is needed. More than ever.
That is why we have asked the founder and CEO of Copenhagen Cartel, Katrine Lee Larsen, to tell us how our current production methods damage the climate, and how you as a consumer can use your unique power and your money to create positive change.
1: Why is our production and consumption a problem for the climate?
"Our society is built on a production and market model, where the goal is to earn as much as possible through a constantly growing consumption of mass-produced products. The result is that the products are often manufactured in such poor quality that they break easily. In this way, they contribute to the need to produce more of them.
Production depletes the planet's resources, which come from non-renewable energy sources such as crude oil and petroleum. It is harmful to people and nature, and destroys our climate through CO2 and pollution during production.”
2: Are some industries more challenged than others?
"In the textile and clothing industry, of which Copenhagen Cartel is a part, the problem is particularly large. In 2019, the European Environment Agency could tell that clothing and textiles were the European consumption area that had the fourth most harmful impact on the environment that year.
This is due to the chemicals used in production, which are both dangerous for people and the environment, as well as the enormous amounts of water and CO2 required to produce textiles and clothing.
The figures only apply to the clothes themselves. Things like price tags, hygiene tags and shipping bags and a lot of other plastic packaging, which is used once and in the worst case ends up in nature due to poor waste management, are not included in the calculations.
Another problem with clothing production is that it encourages use-and-throw-away behaviour. Despite the obvious problems with clothing production, the sale of clothing increases as prices fall.
What's even worse is that much of the clothing never gets used, but is made straight for the bin. In Denmark alone, brands and businesses - both physical and online - throw 700 tons of clothes into the incinerator every year. This is shown in a new report prepared by Econet for the Consumer Council Tænk.
This is how the market runs in a kind of destructive ecosystem. The result is that we are killing the planet and ourselves. We are actually sawing off the branch we are sitting on. That does not make sense. If we are to solve the problems, we must stop them at the source. That source is production and consumption.”
3: Are the Danes climate-conscious consumers?
"In general, Danes think about the climate, and many are decidedly worried. In fact, the concern is so great that it has caused as much as 95 percent of the population to change their behavior or has made them willing to change their behavior to take care of nature and leave a healthy planet for future generations.
This shows an analysis from Agriculture and Food from 2019. The analysis also shows that half worry about the accumulation of plastic, pollution, global warming among other things. In addition, 66 percent think about sustainability to some or a great extent when shopping for food.
This makes good sense, because according to the analysis, it is precisely plastic and food waste that most Danes reveal that they focus on and have the easiest time changing their behaviour.
Unfortunately, the good efforts are offset by other not so climate-friendly habits – namely our consumption.”
4: Do the Danes contribute to the climate problems in clothing production?
"The Danes are among the people in the world who use the Danish card the most. It is clothes in particular that smoke in the shopping basket. According to the Consumer Council Tænk , Danes buy 35 percent more clothes than the rest of the world - in general.
In addition, can Global E-commerce Ranking say that Denmark's consumption increases by as much as 300 percent from October to December. It is the fourth highest climb in the world.
And that's just online shopping.
This is not least due to discount parties such as Black Friday, which the Danes have welcomed with open arms. The result is that in a few years the phenomenon has developed from a single day of consumption to almost a month-long consumption party.
The analysis from Agriculture and Food also shows that when it comes to changing behaviour, the Danes see a greater challenge in changing their shopping habits."
5: What can you do as a consumer?
"First, I would like to start by saying that I 100% understand the joy of making a good deal. After all, I am from Herning.
Nor is it about stopping shopping completely. Instead, I encourage you to buy carefully and go for quality products that will last for many years - and preferably also produced in a climate-friendly way.
The problem is that every single time you make a purchase, you show a need for that specific item. That need affects production.
It is now happening to an extent where we are looking into the fact that if we continue down the route we are on right now, there simply will not be enough resources to maintain our consumption. Even worse, we will have worn down, destroyed and sabotaged nature, the climate and the environment to such an extent that we threaten our own basis for existence.
Fortunately, the mechanisms that reinforce the problem are also the ones that can solve it. The market is governed by supply and demand, and this is where you can really use your power as a consumer.
The power to make demands, the power to reduce production by showing how much you want to buy. The power to show what you want to buy by shopping in sustainable and ethical companies that consider the climate in every aspect of their business.
By cutting down on your consumption, recycling where you can, and by putting your money in companies that don't just produce sustainable products, but think climate into the entire purchase process – from the product itself to packaging, post labels, price tags and donations and cooperate with other climate-conscious players, you can change demand. In the long term, it can change the market production.
It is also important to remember that you are not alone as a consumer. More people are changing their shopping behaviour. The time is right now. The rebellion is already simmering. Several startups are showing the way forward towards a sustainable future, and the huge brands are also adapting.
It is now that we can create real change and show that we are not satisfied with the way our consumption is organized. The most powerful signal you can send is to put your money where your values are.”