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How Reaching for the Clothes in Your Closet Helps Fight Climate Change

Buying new garments less frequently, washing your clothes in cold water and drying them on a line can all cut your carbon footprint.

A pedestrian carries shopping bags on Bond Street in London, U.K., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. Consumers spent more on new clothes, meals out and day trips in July, according to card transaction data analyzed by Visa and Markit.
A pedestrian carries shopping bags on Bond Street in London, U.K., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. Consumers spent more on new clothes, meals out and day trips in July, according to card transaction data analyzed by Visa and Markit.Photographer: Jason Alden

A small, simple and cheap way to prevent some future climate pollution is to wear the clothes already in your closet roughly twice as many times as you might have otherwise before tossing them. 

People doing so could reduce the related emissions impact of clothing by 44%, according to a 2017 report from the charity Ellen MacArthur Foundation, later echoed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Here’s why: Wearing the stuff you already own likely means that you will buy less in the future, thus preventing the greenhouse gas emissions generated during the production of new items.