Challenges and Dilemmas in Everyday Life
For all but the most committed nudists, clothing is an essential need. It is thus a central, though far from straightforward, part of the household sustainability story. Clothing accounts for between 5 and 26 per cent of total household water use, up to 14 per cent of total household waste, and between 7 and 10 per cent of total ecological footprint, according to methodology and country (Tukker et al. 2006; ACF 2007; Kenway et al. 2008). The purchasing, use and disposal of clothing generates on average 0.8 tonnes of CO2-e per household per annum (or 8000 garbage bags filled with CO2) (Wright et al. 2009). Clothing also contributes to other ecological problems such as excess water use, and groundwater, soil and air pollution in its production, distribution and consumption. What further complicates the dilemmas of sustainability surrounding cloth- ing is that, as an industry and practice of consumption, clothing is also fash- ion: most people own more clothing than they need, and only regularly wear a fraction of it, replacing and replicating items seasonally (or even more often) without necessarily needing new clothes (Gibson and Stanes 2010). Clothing is, arguably, the exemplar commodity to illustrate the difference between an object’s use value (its basic utility to humans) and its exchange value (what that object is worth on the market based on what people are prepared to pay). Our behaviour with regards to clothing is only partly based on its use value; instead we buy, wear, dispose and replace clothing based on aesthetics, appear- ances, and emotion. This difference is what distinguishes clothing as a cultural industry – whereby the cultural logics of fashion, subculture, marketing and identity deeply shape the organization of its manufacture, and consumption practices within the household. Clothing is practical, ubiquitous and necessary, but also indulgent, often impractical, decorative and symbolic.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.